[Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from this week’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s media alerts and legislative advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up here. To watch NORML’s weekly video summary of the week’s top stories, click here.] The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has issued its final order rejecting a ruling from the agency’s own Administrative Law Judge finding that it would be ‘in the public interest’ to grant the University of Massachusetts a license to grow marijuana for federally regulated research.
The rejection preserves the monopoly held by National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) on the supply of marijuana for Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-regulated research. In 2010, a spokesperson for the agency told the New York Times, “We generally do not fund research focused on the potential beneficial medical effects of marijuana.”
In 2007, after extensive hearings, DEA Judge Mary Ellen Bittner opined in favor of allowing a researcher at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst legal permission to cultivate marijuana for use in FDA-approved clinical trials.
She determined: “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.”
DEA director Michele Leonhart initially set aside Judge Bittner’s ruling in 2009.
The agency’s ruling may be appealed in the First Circuit US Court of Appeals.
In July, the DEA denied a nine-year-old petition seeking to initiate hearings regarding the federal classification of cannabis as a schedule I controlled substance, stating in part, “[T]here are no adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy.”