Pubdate: Sat, 17 Feb 2007
Source: Republican, The (Springfield, MA)
Copyright: 2007 The Republican
Bookmark: (Lyle Craker)
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Chronic Pain)


What a long, strange trip it's been for Lyle E. Craker, a professor 
at the University of Massachusetts who wants to grow marijuana for 
medical research.

An administrative law judge recommended on Monday that the U.S. Drug 
Enforcement Administration allow Craker to grow high-grade marijuana 
on the Amherst campus.

Here again is a brief history of Craker's frustrating efforts to 
study marijuana, beginning in June 2001 when he applied to the DEA 
for a permit:

The DEA said first that it had lost his application.

Later, the DEA said he had not filled out the forms correctly.

When that failed, the DEA sent two DEA agents to the Amherst campus 
to discourage university officials.

And, finally, the DEA rejected his application.

Craker appealed, launching a process that eventually ended with the 
recommendation on Monday by Judge Mary Ellen Bittner, who said that 
granting the permit would be in the public interest.

The DEA objects to Craker's research because it fears the marijuana 
will fall into the hands of young people who will turn into potheads. 
For a federal government that has waged a decades-long war on illegal 
drugs with little success, it must be painful to admit that marijuana 
might have some value as a prescription drug.

According to a study published Monday in the journal Neurology, 
patients given marijuana said it eased their HIV-related foot pain 
known as peripheral neuropathy. There are no approved drugs to 
specifically treat that kind of pain.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration counters that there are few 
sound studies to support the medical use of marijuana. That's because 
the DEA is blocking the studies, and very little federal funding is 
available in this research field.

Without the sort of research that Craker proposes, it is unlikely 
we'll ever know how many uses might be found for marijuana.

Craker's journey isn't over yet. The judge's ruling on Monday is not 
binding, and a decision will eventually be made by the head of the 
DEA, Karen Tandy.

No more smokescreens, please. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake