Federal Agency In Charge Of Marijuana Research Admits Stifling Studies On Medicinal Cannabi NIDA does “not fund research focused on the potential medical benefits of marijuana”

Rockville, MD: A spokesperson for the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) told the New York Times last week that the agency does “not fund research focused on the potential medical benefits of marijuana.”

Under federal law, the agency must approve all clinical and preclinical research involving marijuana. NIDA strictly controls which investigators are allowed access to the federal government’s lone research supply of pot – which is produced and stored at the University of Mississippi.

NIDA spokeswoman Shirley Simson told the Times: “As the National Institute on Drug Abuse, our focus is primarily on the negative consequences of marijuana use. We generally do not fund research focused on the potential beneficial medical effects of marijuana.”

NIDA presently oversees an estimated 85 percent of the world’s research on controlled substances.

Commenting on NIDA’s admission NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said, “NIDA has finally admitted to the world the ‘Catch-22’ that has been plaguing medical marijuana advocates and patients. Lawmakers demand clinical research regarding the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis, but the agency in charge of such research denies these studies from ever taking place. It’s tragic that these public officials have let political ideology, not science, determine American’s health decisions.”

In 2007, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner ruled that NIDA’s monopolization of marijuana research is not “in the public interest,” and ordered the federal government to allow private manufacturers to produce the drug for research purposes. In January of last year, DEA Deputy Administrator Michele Leonhart set aside Judge Bittner’s ruling.

This week President Barack Obama announced his selection of Leonhart to be the DEA’s Director.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org.