Federal Lawsuit to Challenge DEA's Denial of Marijuana Science

Covington & Burling LL, a prominent, D.C.-based firm representing the pharmaceutical industry, will work pro-bono for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) to challenge the DEA's ludicrous monopoly on marijuana research. The suit is an attempt to overturn the federal government's latest attempt to deny scientific proof for the medical benefits of marijuana.  

Recently, the University of Haifa in France determined that marijuana blocks PTSD symptoms in rats. But when MAPS attempted to obtain a license to grow marijuana and study its effects on chronic, treatment resistant PTSD, the DEA approved the study but did not disclose whether it would sell them the marijuana necessary to carry it out. 

The DEA also rejected University of Massachusetts professor Lyle Craker's request to obtain a license to grow marijuana and study its potential medical uses. Denying scientists access to science, the DEA said that only NIDA (National Institute of Drug Abuse) can supply marijuana for FDA-regulated research.

"The federal government’s official policy is that marijuana has no medical benefit," the American Civil Liberties Union saidin a legal brief on the case, "But the government is unwilling to put its policy to the test of science: instead, the government exercises monopoly control over the nation’s supply of marijuana that may be used for scientific purposes, by allowing an agency whose mission is to explore the consequences of the abuse of marijuana."

This June, the DEA notoriously ruled to keep marijuana, alongside heroin, in the Schedule I drug category, the criteria for which include lack of safety and medical use, as well as the potential for abuse.  Citing lack of scientific studies that prove the efficacy and and safety of marijuana, the DEA said marijuana has "no currently accepted medical use."  Days after making the ridiculous statement, the DEA responded to widespread condemnation and adjusted its announcement to admit there may be "some" benefits in "individual components" of marijuana. The plant's classification remained unchanged. 

That marijuana has  no medical value was not the only lie the DEA told.  It also said there are no FDA-approved marijuana treatments, but its own website says "Medical marijuana already exists. It's called Marinol." The THC pill is one of two FDA-approved THC pills on the market, and a third is in Phase III of FDA-testing. 

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have already approved marijuana -- in its pure plant-form -- for medical use.  Smoking, as opposed to ingesting, marijuana  allows patients to feel the effects of the drug immediately, thus providing them with better control over administration. What's more, NORML asserts that it is not just THC, but many other chemicals present in marijuana, that provide consumers with the medical benefits the plant is known to contain. 

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne

Posted at September 22, 2011, 2:54pm

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