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FDA Final Order: No Marijuana Growing for Research

Daily Dose 2011-08-30 1 comment

By Paul Armentano  |  Published in Opposing Views

Lyle E. Craker, University of Massachusetts at Amherst professor of plant, soil and insect sciences, is surrounded by plants in the campus greenhouse in this Republican file photo.

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has issued its final order rejecting a ruling from the agency’s own Administrative Law Judge finding that it would be ‘in the public interest’ to grant the University of Massachusetts a license to grow marijuana for federally regulated research.

The rejection preserves the monopoly held by National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) on the supply of marijuana for Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-regulated research. In 2010, a spokesperson for the agency told The New York Times, “We generally do not fund research focused on the potential beneficial medical effects of marijuana.”

In 2007, after extensive hearings, DEA Judge Mary Ellen Bittner opined in favor of allowing a researcher at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst legal permission to cultivate marijuana for use in FDA-approved clinical trials.

She determined: “I conclude that granting Respondent’s application would not be inconsistent with the Single Convention, that there would be minimal risk of diversion of marijuana resulting from Respondent’s registration, that there is currently an inadequate supply of marijuana available for research purposes, that competition in the provision of marijuana for such purposes is inadequate, and that Respondent has complied with applicable laws and has never been convicted of any violation of any law pertaining to controlled substances. I therefore find that Respondent’s registration to cultivate marijuana would be in the public interest.

DEA director Michele Leonhart initially set aside Judge Bittner’s ruling in 2009.

The agency’s ruling may be appealed in the First Circuit US Court of Appeals.

In July, the DEA denied a nine-year-old petition seeking to initiate hearings regarding the federal classification of cannabis as a schedule I controlled substance, stating in part, “[T]here are no adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy.”


Paul Armentano is the Deputy Director of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) and the NORML Foundation. Mr. Armentano is an expert in the field ofmarijuana policy, health, and pharmacology, and has served as a consultant for Health Canada and the Canadian Public Health Association. He has spoken at numerous national conferences and legal seminars, testified before state legislatures and federal agencies, and assisted dozens of criminal defense attorneys in cases pertaining to the use of medicinal cannabisdrug testing, and drugged driving. He also serves of the faculty of Oaksterdam University in Oakland, where he lectures on the science surrounding the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis.

Mr. Armentano is a frequent guest on national radio and television, having appeared on FoxNewsMSNBC, and CBS News. His writing and research has appeared in over 500 publications, including the New York TimesWashington Post, and The Christian Science Monitor, as well as in more than a dozen textbooks and anthologies. Mr. Armentano is a 2008 recipient of the ‘Project Censored Real News Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism.’ In 2009, he co-authored the book Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? (2009, Chelsea Green), which has appeared on‘s best-sellers list and was selected by Publishers Weekly as one of “20 titles from independent presses that show big promise.” (Wikipedia)

1 comment

  1. Jim Geesman

    It’s this exact lack of research that continues our generation’s greatest of lost opportunities. It has also contributed to my epilepsy. I was never epileptic until experiencing my 2nd seizure in 33 days. I’d been seizure free for 40 months without any medication but my cannabis, but the addition of oxycodone I was taking for a kidney stone was enough to throw my brain into seizure. The head trauma I experienced in January of 06 left my seizure threshold low enough for me to go grand mal. My doctor lamented the lack of research and not knowing how much is proper dosage. He also shared with me that he was “dinged”, along with his employer, for signing his approval of my cannabis usage because he works for a federally funded institution. I’m surviving brain cancer under the care of UCSF, and the DEA is going to interfere in the relationship I have with my doctor? Needless to say, I feel extremely violated. In the spirit of the Occupy movement, I’m dreaming of an OccupyDEA movement.