Legal Challenge To NIDA’s Pot Monopoly To Resume Next Month

Washington, DC: Administrative hearings challenging the US National Institute on Drug Abuse’s (NIDA) exclusive control of the production and distribution of cannabis for clinical research are scheduled to reconvene next month. The hearings, which began in August, were originally scheduled to resume in September, but were postponed at the request of attorneys for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The second round of hearings is now scheduled to take place the week of December 12, 2005.

At issue in the case is whether the DEA improperly rejected an application from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst to manufacture cannabis for FDA-approved research. The DEA waited more than three years before officially denying the University’s request, stating that the establishment of such a facility “would not be consistent with the public interest.” Respondents in the case the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) and Lyle Craker, director of the UMass-Amherst Medicinal Plant Program are challenging the DEA’s denial, arguing that a private production facility is in the public interest (as defined by the US Controlled Substances Act) because it would encourage competition in the marketplace and promote technological and scientific advancement in the field of medicine.

“This lawsuit is really our last hope for trying to take marijuana – whether it’s smoked or vaporized – through the FDA regulatory system,” MAPS Executive Director Rick Doblin said.

Earlier this week Grover Norquist, President of the conservative think-tank Americans for Tax Reform, sent a formal letter to DEA Administrator Karen Tandy urging the agency to allow for a private production facility for research-grade cannabis. “Scientific research on agricultural products should not be influenced by politics,” states the letter.

“If the test subject in question were dandelions, there would be no controversy here. The fact that some choose to abuse the cannabis plant illegally is immaterial. The use of controlled substances for legitimate research purposes is well established, and has yielded a number of miracle medicines widely available to patients and doctors. This case should be no different. It’s in the public interest to end the government monopoly on marijuana legal for research.”

For more information, please contact either NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at: (202) 483-5500. Additional background regarding MAPS’ administrative law challenge is available online at: http://www.maps.org