Source: Oregonian, The (Portland, OR)
Author: Brad Schmidt
Published: Friday, January 07, 2005
Copyright: 2005 The Oregonian
The agencies that can give permission to conduct research into medicinal
marijuana are most hostile to that research
Oregonians have made clear, in elections and in public opinion polling,
that they favor careful use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. They
also made clear, in the 1998 Ballot Measure 67 and the 2004 Ballot
Measure 33, that they are uninterested in going beyond current state law
to legalize marijuana for nonmedicinal purposes.
It will be hard for medicinal marijuana to be properly evaluated and
applied if legitimate researchers can't get legal supplies for human
studies to assess the health effects of the drug and unless versions of
the drug can be standardized for sale if recommended by doctors.
It is our strong impression that the federal Drug Enforcement
Administration is conducting a rear-guard action against useful research
efforts. This occurs despite two federal court actions in 2003 that, in
effect, affirm that the federal Controlled Substances Act doesn't trump
state medical marijuana laws or allow federal agents to revoke the
licenses of doctors who legally recommend marijuana.
The delay continues also despite U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen
Breyer's recent advice in Ashcroft v. Raich that patients seek Food and
Drug Administration approval for marijuana as a medicine. But for the
FDA to approve marijuana, researchers would need to test marijuana
identical to what would be sold to patients -- from the same source, the
same genetic strain and grown under the same conditions.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse is the only legal source for
marijuana for research, but NIDA's marijuana is available only for
research, not for distribution -- leaving scientists with no way to test
the same product that would be sold. An effort by the University of
Massachusetts to solve this problem by establishing a facility to grow
marijuana specifically for research aimed at developing it as a
prescription drug was blocked by the federal DEA on Dec. 10 -
The bottleneck for legitimate researchers is that the agencies that are
hostile to medicinal marijuana are the gatekeepers of its supply.
Federal agencies such as the DEA should stop blocking legitimate
research that is conducted with proper security.
Until the agencies stop erecting unreasonable barriers, the Supreme
Court and federal appeals courts should recognize that FDA approval is
not currently a viable option, so patients need to be afforded full
protection of their states' laws.
Related Articles & Web Sites:
Angel Raich v. Ashcroft News
Hampering Research DEA Won’t Allow Trials
DEA Ruling Renders Approval Impossible
U.S. Puts Brake on 'Pot' Studies
No Room To Grow