Last updated on: 5/30/2008 | Author:

Has the Government Blocked Clinical Trials of Marijuana?

PRO (yes)


The Drug Policy Forum of Texas stated in a Sep. 5, 2003 article on the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet) by Suzanne Wills:

“In all its policies the DEA is the antithesis of science. The most glaring, inhumane and disingenuous example is its refusal to allow researchers a supply of cannabis for medical trials approved by the Food and Drug Administration.”

Sep. 5, 2003


Rick Doblin, PhD, President of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), wrote in an undated article on the MAPS website, “NIDA Blocks Medical Marijuana Research” (accessed June 22, 2006):

“Dr. Abrams’ protocol design [for medical marijuana research on AIDS patients] had been extensively reviewed, critiqued, modified and approved by the FDA, the California Research Advisory Panel, the Institutional Review Board of UC San Francisco, and the Scientific Advisory Board of the San Francisco Community Consortium. None of these organizations has a reputation for laxness.

Early in the summer of 1994, DEA blocked the importation of marijuana from a licensed marijuana research firm in the Netherlands. In August, 1994, Dr. Abrams submitted a request for marijuana to NIDA, which is the sole domestic source of marijuana legal for clinical research…

On April 26, 1995, Dr. Abrams received a letter from … NIDA, rejecting his request for marijuana for his study…. claiming that Dr. Abrams’ study was scientifically flawed and therefore was not worthy of any of NIDA’s limited supply of marijuana…

None of the supposed scientific deficiencies in Dr. Abrams’ protocol … were raised by the FDA or any of the other regulatory bodies… NIDA is not the government agency charged with determining if drugs are safe and effective for prescription availability, yet NIDA is seeking to require data that the FDA determined were not necessary.”

June 22, 2006


Jacob Sullum, Senior Editor of Reason magazine, wrote in his July 14, 2003 Reason article “Privatizing Pot”:

“Although a few researchers have managed to obtain marijuana from NIDA [National Institute on Drug Abuse], two studies approved by the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] have been rejected by NIDA, and those examples have discouraged other researchers from bothering to apply.

The additional layer of approval, which is not required for any other Schedule I drug, makes an already daunting process even more intimidating.”

July 14, 2003

CON (no)


Karen Tandy, Administrator of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), stated in her article “Marijuana: The Myths Are Killing Us,” published in the Mar. 2005 issue of Police Chief Magazine (the official publication of the International Association of Chiefs of Police):

“The federal government has approved and continues to approve research into the possible use of marijuana as medicine and any new delivery systems of marijuana’s active ingredients. To quote U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s remarks during the November 2004 Raich oral argument, ‘Medicine by regulation is better than medicine by referendum.’

Proving that the regulatory process does work, DEA has registered every researcher who meets FDA standards to use marijuana in scientific studies. Since 2000, for example, the California-based Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR) has gained approval for 14 trials using smoked marijuana in human beings and three trials in laboratory and animal models.”

Mar. 2005


The Washington Post reported in a Nov. 24, 2000 article titled “DEA-Approved Study Will Give Away Marijuana”:

“The federal Drug Enforcement Administration has approved a program that will allow a northern California county [Santa Crus] to give away government-grown marijuana to 60 AIDS patients in a study to assess the drug’s potential health benefits.

The 12-week study in San Mateo County could begin as early as January [2001].”

Nov. 24, 2000


The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) stated on its website under “Exposing The Myth of Smoked Marijuana,” (accessed June 20, 2006):

“The DEA supports research into the safety and efficacy of THC (the major psychoactive component of marijuana), and such studies are ongoing, supported by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

As a result of such research, a synthetic THC drug, Marinol, has been available to the public since 1985. The Food and Drug Administration has determined that Marinol is safe, effective, and has therapeutic benefits for use as a treatment for nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy, and as a treatment of weight loss in patients with AIDS. However, it does not produce the harmful health effects associated with smoking marijuana.”

June 20, 2006