Medical Marijuana
Pros and Cons
Video exploring critical thinking and how it leads to great citizen involvement

  1. News Summary

  2. Judge's Ruling
  1. Reactions to the Ruling

  2. Case Background
1. News Summary

The San Francisco Chronicle stated in a Feb. 13, 2007 article by Bob Egelko titled "Judge Sides With Botanist on Pot Supply":

"A Massachusetts botanist should be allowed to grow marijuana for medical study, a hearing officer said Monday in a ruling that would end a longtime government requirement that all federally approved researchers get their pot supplies from the University of Mississippi.

Because of the monopoly arrangement, in effect since 1968, 'there is currently an inadequate supply of marijuana available for research purposes,' said Mary Ellen Bittner, a Drug Enforcement Administration administrative law judge. She said the application by Lyle Craker, a University of Massachusetts professor of plant biology, 'would be in the public interest.'

The ruling is actually only a recommendation to the DEA, which supports the current policy. Agency spokesman Garrison Courtney said a deputy administrator would make the final decision after reviewing arguments from lawyers for the DEA staff and for Craker. The agency's decision could be appealed to a federal court in Washington, D.C."
Feb. 13, 2007 San Francisco Chronicle

2. Judge's Ruling:

Mary Ellen Bittner, DEA Administrative Law Judge, issued her non-binding Feb. 12, 2007 ruling in the matter of Lyle E. Craker, PhD, (PDF - 6.59 MB) stating the following:

"I conclude that granting Respondent's application would not be inconsistent with the Single Convention, that there would be minimal risk of diversion of marijuana resulting from Respondent's registration, that there is currently an inadequate supply of marijuana available for research purposes, that competition in the provision of marijuana for such purposes is inadequate, and that Respondent has complied with applicable laws and has never been convicted of any violation of any law pertaining to controlled substances. I therefore find that Respondent's registration to cultivate marijuana would be in the public interest.

I recommend that Respondent's application be granted."
Feb. 12, 2007 Mary Ellen Bittner



3. Reactions to the Ruling:
NEUTRAL

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) spokesperson Garrison Courtney stated in a Feb. 12, 2007 Boston Globe article by David Abel titled "Judge: Let Prof Grow Medicinal Marijuana":

"We're [U.S. DEA] still reviewing the opinion. We'll make a determination at a later point."
Feb. 12, 2007 U.S. DEA


PRO

Lyle E. Craker, PhD, stated in a Feb. 13, 2007 press release issued through the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) titled "DEA Judge Rebukes Government for Obstruction of Medical Marijuana Research":

"This ruling is a victory for science, medicine and the public good. I hope that the DEA abides by the decision and grants me the opportunity to do my job unimpeded by drug war politics."
Feb. 13, 2007 Lyle E. Craker


PRO

The American Civil Liberties Union stated through spokesman Allen Hopper in a Feb. 13, 2007 press release issued through the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) titled "DEA Judge Rebukes Government for Obstruction of Medical Marijuana Research":

"For too long the DEA has inappropriately inserted politics into a regulatory process that should be left to the FDA and medical science. We are pleased that the judge has recommended an end to the federal government’s blockade of medical marijuana research.

Today’s ruling is an important step toward allowing medical marijuana patients to get their medicine from a pharmacy just like everyone else. That would clear up the controversies surrounding state medical marijuana laws."
Feb. 13, 2007 American Civil Liberties Union


PRO

Rick Doblin, PhD, President of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), stated in a Feb. 12, 2007 Boston Globe article by David Abel titled "Judge: Let Prof Grow Medicinal Marijuana":

"This is a major step to getting us to do the scientific research that the government has been blocking for the past 30 years. If the government says no, the hypocrisy of their approach will help fuel efforts for state medical marijuana reforms."
Feb. 12, 2007 Rick Doblin



4. Case Background:

December 2004: DEA Rejects Marijuana Production License by UMass Amherst

 

The New York Times stated in its Dec. 14, 2004 article "College Fails in Bid to Grow Marijuana," by Donald G. McNeil Jr.:

 

"A longstanding request to grow marijuana at the University of Massachusetts so it can be tested for medical uses has been turned down by the Drug Enforcement Administration [DEA]. ...

In its order, the drug agency said the lone government-licensed marijuana farm, operated by the University of Mississippi, grew enough for researchers. It said that 18 medical studies using the drug had been approved since 2000.

But Dr. Lyle E. Craker, the professor of plant biology at the University of Massachusetts who applied for the license three years ago, said researchers complained that the government's marijuana was weak and that it was hard to get permission to use it.

'We wanted to have a source independent from the government and with a known potency so doctors can run clinical trials,' he said. Researchers would still have needed D.E.A. permission to work with the drug."
Dec. 14, 2004 New York Times


[Editor's Note: This DEA rejection comes after the Washington DC Court of Appeals decision of Nov. 29, 2004, which gave the DEA until Dec. 22, 2004 to reply to two lawsuits challenging the DEA's 3 1/2 year delay.]


The Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), one of the participants in that lawsuit, commented on Dec. 13, 2004:

 

"DEA's 'Order to Show Cause' says that we have 30 days to submit an appeal for an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing and that if we don't, the application will be rejected. We will, of course, appeal and will launch yet another ALJ hearing.

The 'Order to Show Cause' gives DEA's explanations for its decision. After reading how weak and fallacious DEA's arguments are, it's easy to understand why DEA didn't want to issue this ruling and had to be sued in order to force it to do so, 3 and 1/2 years after the application was initially filed."
Dec. 13, 2004 MAPS


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