Judge Sides with Botanist on Pot Supply

  Judge Sides with Botanist on Pot Supply

Posted by CN Staff on February 13, 2007 at 07:38:45 PT
By Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer 
Source: San Francisco Chronicle 

USA -- A Massachusetts botanist should be allowed to grow marijuana for medical study, a hearing officer said Monday in a ruling that would end a longtime government requirement that all federally approved researchers get their pot supplies from the University of Mississippi. Because of the monopoly arrangement, in effect since 1968, "there is currently an inadequate supply of marijuana available for research purposes,'' said Mary Ellen Bittner, a Drug Enforcement Administration administrative law judge. She said the application by Lyle Craker, a University of Massachusetts professor of plant biology, "would be in the public interest.''
The ruling is actually only a recommendation to the DEA, which supports the current policy. Agency spokesman Garrison Courtney said a deputy administrator would make the final decision after reviewing arguments from lawyers for the DEA staff and for Craker. The agency's decision could be appealed to a federal court in Washington, D.C. "It's going to be a hard case to win,'' said Anjuli Verna of the American Civil Liberties Union's drug law reform project, which represents Craker. She said the court could overturn a DEA veto of Bittner's ruling only if it was found that the agency was acting arbitrarily. Currently, all researchers on marijuana in the United States must obtain licenses and get their drug supplies from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which has had an exclusive contract with the University of Mississippi for more than 38 years. The government and the university project overseer say they supply high-quality marijuana, with varying potencies, to all researchers with a legitimate need, and currently provide the drug to nearly 500 patients in clinical trials. An exclusive contract is necessary, the DEA contends, to prevent diversion of the "most heavily abused'' of drugs in the government's list of dangerous substances. But the ACLU's Verna said many researchers have complained that the Mississippi marijuana is "very low-grade, low-potency,'' requiring increased usage -- with potential health problems -- to get the desired effect. Picture of Mississippi Farm: Snipped:Complete Article: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)Author: Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff WriterPublished: Tuesday, February 13, 2007Copyright: 2007 Hearst Communications Inc.Contact: letters sfchronicle.comWebsite: Articles & Web Sites:ACLU Research Supports Medicinal Marijuana Let Prof Grow Medicinal Marijuana Gets Boost in Bid To Grow Marijuana

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Comment #7 posted by ekim on February 15, 2007 at 09:02:34 PT

good one AB
have you been to leaps blog
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Comment #6 posted by afterburner on February 15, 2007 at 07:27:00 PT

Nixon's other war
CN MB: Column: The Folly Of Prohibition, Winnipeg Sun, (14 Feb 2007) Lt. Jack Cole of the New Jersey State Police, a former undercover officer, says prohibition has given criminals the opportunity to supply drugs and to decide which ones. It's then left to the criminal to say how they'll be produced, how potent they'll be, what age levels they'll sell to and where they're going to sell. "If they decide to sell to 10-year-olds on our playgrounds then that's where they'll be sold." 

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Comment #5 posted by whig on February 13, 2007 at 18:06:15 PT

what's the next play?
These DEA petitions are only to exhaust administrative remedies in order to proceed in the judicial courts.
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Comment #4 posted by observer on February 13, 2007 at 17:26:57 PT

Bush Appointee Decides: the Fix is In
from: Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
Steve Robertson, a spokesman for DEA, said Monday night the agency is reviewing Bittner's decision and would have no immediate comment. The DEA administrator, Karen Tandy, retains final authority to decide on the application.The fix is in, folks. According to the Machiavellian Model, Bush regime political appointee Karen Tandy will override any judges in the way (if need be), in order to deny scientists the chance to so much as perform experiments with anything but U.S. Government Supplied Ditchweed. (No buds: they gum up government rolling machines, of course. See pics at: ) Yes, now that's the U.S. Government I know: A false veneer of Disneyland democracy with plenty of Mickey Mouse freedom, but choose to use a plant the government dictates you "can't", and you'll find a government gun in your back. So much for "freedom" and "democracy". 
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on February 13, 2007 at 14:00:14 PT

Press Release From The ACLU
DEA Judge Calls for Government to End Obstruction of Medical Marijuana Research ***February 13, 2007Contact: media Scientists, Doctors and Patients Join the ACLU in Calling on DEA to Adopt the Court’s RecommendationWASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union applauded a ruling issued by a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration judge that recommends ending the federal government’s sixty-five year monopoly on the supply of marijuana available for Food and Drug Administration-approved medical research. The ACLU represents University of Massachusetts-Amherst Professor Lyle Craker, who petitioned the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for a license to grow research-grade marijuana for use in privately-funded studies that aim to develop the plant into a legal, prescription medicine. The DEA judge ruled that it is in the public interest to end the federal National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) monopoly on the supply of marijuana that can be used in Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved research."For too long the DEA has inappropriately inserted politics into a regulatory process that should be left to the FDA and medical science," said Allen Hopper, an attorney with the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project. "We are pleased that the judge has recommended an end to the federal government’s blockade of medical marijuana research." The DEA must now either accept or reject the court’s recommendation, and scientists, doctors and medical marijuana patients nationwide joined the ACLU in urging the agency to comply with the court’s finding and halt federal obstruction of medical marijuana research."This ruling is a victory for science, medicine and the public good," said Professor Craker. "I hope that the DEA abides by the decision and allows the work to go forward unimpeded by drug war politics."The ruling issued yesterday by U.S. Department of Justice-appointed Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner marks a major step forward in the six year struggle by Professor Craker to gain a DEA license to grow research-grade marijuana for use by other scientists in privately funded, government-approved studies. Following nine days of hearings, testimony and evidence from both sides, including from researchers who reported that the government denied their requests for marijuana for use in FDA-approved research protocols, Judge Bittner concluded, "that there is currently an inadequate supply of marijuana available for research purposes…" and that, "Respondent’s registration to cultivate marijuana would be in the public interest."Thirty-eight members of Congress and a broad range of scientific and medical organizations have joined Professor Craker in challenging the federal government’s policy of blocking administrative channels and obstructing research that could lead to the development of marijuana as a prescription medicine. These organizations include the Lymphoma Foundation of America, the National Association for Public Health Policy, the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, as well as several state medical and nurses’ associations.Marijuana is the only Schedule I drug that DEA has prohibited from being produced by private laboratories for scientific research. Other controlled substances, including LSD, MDMA (also known as "Ecstasy"), heroin and cocaine, are available to researchers from DEA-licensed private laboratories, such as the one Professor Craker plans to establish.In contrast, NIDA has remained scientists’ sole source of marijuana, despite criticism over the agency’s refusal to make marijuana available for all FDA-approved research into the plant’s potential medical value. The ACLU and others point out that such research conflicts with NIDA’s mission to study the harmful effects of drugs of abuse. In addition, researchers report that marijuana available through NIDA is of low quality and variety and is not optimized to meet FDA standards for prescription drug development.Professor Craker’s proposed facility to grow high-quality medical marijuana for research purposes will be funded by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a non-profit pharmaceutical company with plans to develop marijuana into a fully legal, prescription medication."For decades, we’ve been told by the politicians that marijuana has no proven medical value while scientists have been denied the ability to prove otherwise," said Rick Doblin, Ph.D., president and founder of MAPS. "Hopefully, today’s decision marks a shift towards science, not politics, guiding medicine in America."Despite federal prohibition, 12 states have enacted legislation protecting patients who use medical marijuana with a physician’s recommendation from prosecution under state law, and national polls consistently find that roughly 75 percent of Americans support the use of medical marijuana."Today’s ruling is an important step toward allowing medical marijuana patients to get their medicine from a pharmacy just like everyone else," added the ACLU’s Hopper. "That would clear up the controversies surrounding state medical marijuana laws."The ACLU is co-counsel in the case, In the Matter of Lyle Craker, with Julie Carpenter at the Washington D.C. law firm Jenner & Block, LLP and is assisted by Steptoe & Johnson, LLP.Judge Bittner’s ruling in support of Professor Craker’s petition is available at: background on the case, including client profiles, hearing transcripts, a full selection of legal documents, and letters of support from lawmakers and scientists can be found at:
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on February 13, 2007 at 10:14:23 PT

Joe Citizen
You said: Let's all urge the Dems to stand up against two wars, the one in the deserts of Iraq and the one that is waged against our own citizens in their homes and the streets of their cities.I agree with you.PS: We are having a big snow storm and my satellite keeps getting full of snow and that means it is hard to connect between sweepings. I will try to stay on top of any news that happens but I might be a little slow today. All those who are in the path of this big snow storm stay safe and warm. 
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Comment #1 posted by JoeCitizen on February 13, 2007 at 09:45:41 PT

Don't Hold Your Breath Waiting
It's a great ruling from the Judge, but I've seen this play before, when Judge Francis Young issued his landmark ruling in 1988.Based on what I saw then, I expect the DEA to follow exactly the same playbook. Which is, to delay at every step, for as long as the letter of the law says they can, even longer if no one files motions or calls them on it.When at last they are forced to rule, they will simply ignore the Judge's decision. It's not binding on them, and so they just won't do it.I really hope that in 19 years we aren't quoting Judge Mary Ellen Bittner's words the way we do with Francis Young, as a what-should-have-been moment that passed us by.Let's all urge the Dems to stand up against two wars, the one in the deserts of Iraq and the one that is waged against our own citizens in their homes and the streets of their cities.Joe Citizen

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