Lawsuits Allege Federal Government Has Illegally Delayed Medical Marijuana Research
Lawsuits filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Wednesday allege that the federal government has illegally delayed medical marijuana research, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports. Lyle Craker, director of the Medicinal Plant Program at University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Valerie Corral, co-founder of the California-based Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, and Rick Doblin, president of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, filed the lawsuits.
The lawsuits -- which name the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Drug Enforcement Administration, HHS and NIH as defendants -- allege that the government is "refusing to act on legitimate research projects and delaying studies that could lead to marijuana's use as a prescription drug," according to the AP/Sun. The lawsuits allege that the government has failed to act on an application filed in 2001 by UMass-Amherst to grow marijuana for federally approved research. In addition, the lawsuits allege that the government has failed to act on an application filed in 2003 by Massachusetts-based Chemic Laboratories to import 10 grams of marijuana from the Dutch government for research on a nonsmoking delivery system.
In a statement, the plaintiffs said, "Every day DEA delays the applications necessary to initiate research is another day that the patients with illnesses susceptible to treatment using marijuana must either suffer otherwise remediable pain or risk arrest to use marijuana as medicine." Under current law, scientists must obtain marijuana used for research in the United States from a federally contracted farm in Mississippi. The lawsuit alleges that marijuana from the farm is "inconsistently available to researchers and is infamous for its low quality."
Craker said in a statement, "There is an urgent need for an alternative supply of marijuana for medical research." He also said that NIDA "maintains a monopoly on research marijuana," adding, "Many researchers believe that NIDA's monopoly is an obstacle to getting needed studies done on a timely basis."
Corral said, "Instead of providing relief for critically ill Americans, our government refuses to allow the research that would free sick and dying members of our collective from living in fear of an administration that views medical assistance as criminal activity." Ed Childress, a spokesperson for DEA, said that that agency had no comment on the lawsuits (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 7/21).