Pubdate: Thu, 22 Jul 2004
Source: Daily Hampshire Gazette (MA)
Copyright: 2004 Daily Hampshire Gazette
Author: Mary Carey, Staff Writer
Referenced: the DEA lawsuit
Cited: University of Massachusetts-Amherst
Cited: Drug Enforcement Administration
Cited: Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies
Cited: Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


A University of Massachusetts plant and soil sciences professor is suing 
the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration for 
"unreasonable delay" in approving or denying his application to grow 
high-potency marijuana on campus for government-approved medicinal 
research. Lyle Craker, director of the medicinal plant program at UMass, is 
one of three plaintiffs in the suit, which was mailed Wednesday to the 
Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the appellate court 
that typically reviews challenges to federal agencies.

Craker's application for permission to grow an initial 25 pounds of 
high-potency marijuana in a secure location on the Amherst campus was first 
filed with the DEA in June 2001. Since then, despite letters of support 
from U.S. Sens. Edward Kennedy and John Kerry and another letter to the DEA 
from five Massachusetts congressmen, including John Olver, the DEA has 
taken no action on the application, according to the lawsuit.

The marijuana would be supplied to government-approved researchers working 
on therapies for treating symptoms of AIDS, glaucoma and multiple sclerosis 
and in alleviating pain and other side effects of chemotherapy. If the DEA 
approved the application, UMass would be the only legal grower of marijuana 
for research purposes besides the University of Mississippi, which has 
supplied the National Institute on Drug Abuse with marijuana for 30 years. 
The institute is on the Mississippi campus.

Chancellor John Lombardi has said the project has his full support Craker 
is joined in the suit by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic 
Studies (MAPS) and Valerie Corral a governmentally approved medicinal 
marijuana user from California.

MAPS is a Florida-based nonprofit research and educational organization 
that seeks to develop marijuana as a prescription medication approved by 
the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It has received approval to research 
medicinal uses of marijuana, including in vapor form.

The suit asks the DEA to promptly approve or deny both Craker's application 
and another request by MAPS to import a small amount of high grade 
marijuana from the Dutch Office of Medicinal Cannabis, the Dutch government 
agency that supplies medical marijuana to pharmacies in the Netherlands to 
use in testing of a marijuana vaporizer.

Boston attorney Michael D. Cutler, who is representing Craker, MAPS and 
Corral, said Tuesday it appears as if the DEA is playing a game of 
three-card monty with the plaintiffs. As detailed in the suit, the DEA 
claims to have lost Craker's first application for several months before 
finding it. Then, the agency placed a notice in the Federal Register asking 
whether anyone had objections to the granting of the application and 
received only one - from the director of research at the University of 
Mississippi-based growers. For months it has taken no action at all.

"This is not two graduate students on the phone asking for permission," 
Cutler said.

MAPS already has obtained permission to conduct research with substances 
including Ecstasy.

"Only when you're doing marijuana testing does the National Institute on 
Drug Abuse have this monopoly. You can't get it from any other place," 
Cutler said. In their Oct. 20, 2003, letter addressed to DEA administrator 
Karen Tandy, Kennedy and Kerry wrote, "We believe that the National 
Institute on Drug Abuse facility at the University of Mississippi has an 
unjustifiable monopoly on the reduction of marijuana for legitimate medical 
and research purposes in the United States." According to Kennedy and 
Kerry, the current lack of competition "may well result in the production 
of lower-quality research-grade marijuana, which in turn jeopardizes 
important research into the therapeutic effects of marijuana for patients 
undergoing chemotherapy or suffering from AIDS, glaucoma, or other 
diseases." Massachusetts Congressmen John Olver, Barney Frank, James 
McGovern, William Delahunt and Michael Capuano, who support Craker's 
proposal, wrote to then DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson in June 2002, 
urging the agency to license privately funded sources of marijuana.

But in his July 1, 2002, response addressed to Frank, Hutchinson argued 
against expanding the number of marijuana producers, saying, "For more than 
30 years, the University of Mississippi has produced an adequate supply to 
meet the entire United States demand for research-grade marijuana. There is 
no indication that this supply is currently inadequate or will become 
inadequate in the future."

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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin