|Photo: The Republican|
|Lyle E. Craker, UMass-Amherst professor of plant, soil and insect sciences, in the campus greenhouse|
The DEA has for years claimed that letting anybody other than the federal government grow marijuana would "lead to greater illegal use" of the herb, reports Robert Rizzuto at The Republican.
Lyle Craker, a University of Massachusetts professor of plant, soil and insect sciences in Amherst, has been trying for 10 years to get a license to perform potentially life-saving research on medicinal cannabis.
Since he first filed his application with the federal government in 2001, Craker has been through a legal quagmire. While the rest of the nation appears to be moving toward increased acceptance of medical marijuana, the federal government still seems bogged down in 20th Century attitudes toward the plant.
All marijuana used for any federal studies is currently grown at the University of Mississippi by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). NIDA isn't into approving research on the medical benefits of marijuana; it seems they will only approve studies which try to find the supposed dangers of cannabis. (After all, they are the National Institute on Drug Abuse.)
Researchers have rightly charged that simple cultivation of one strain of marijuana is not enough to learn about the benefits that specific strains may have on specific ailments and symptoms.
So far, the feds seem willfully ignorant that such things as medically useful strains of cannabis exist at all.
It seems as if they're almost afraid to finally admit that marijuana has medical value, after years of ignorance the evidence. Denial isn't just a river in Egypt, after all.
"It would be nice to be able to develop plant material that would be specific for glaucoma, specific to inhibit vomiting and all those other things that the plant is credited with doing," Craker told the Associated Press in March.
The DEA on August 15 issued its final order rejecting its own Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner's recommendation that it would be "in the public interest" to grant Professor Craker a license to grow cannabis for federally regulated research.
The rejection continues the unfortunate monopoly held by the NIDA on the supply of marijuana for all Food and Drug Administration-regulated studies.
"All we want to do is to produce the material that medical doctors want to use for tests," Crtaker said previously. "I'm disappointed in our system. But I'm not disappointed in what we did. I think our efforts have brought the problem to the public eye more. ... This is just the first battle in a war."
Judge Bittner issued her recommendation to license Craker back on February 12, 2007, after extensive hearings.
On January 14, 2009, almost two years later -- and six days before President Obama's inauguration -- DEA Acting Administrator Michelle Leonhart rejected Judge Bittner's recommendations.
Leonhart went on to become Obama's choice to run the DEA.
Following Leonhart's decision, U.S. Senator John Kerry and the late Senator Edward Kennedy, both of Massachusetts, wrote Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden asking for a review of the process (see their letter below).