February 13, 2007
Historic Step Toward Nation's First Privately-Funded Marijuana Production Facility
Washington, D.C. - University of Massachusetts-Amherst Professor Lyle Craker, MAPS, the ACLU, and a broad array of medical and public policy groups nationwide enthusiastically supported today's official recommendation by Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner that Prof. Craker be permitted to grow research-grade marijuana for use in privately-funded government-approved studies that aim to develop the marijuana plant into a legal, prescription medicine. Judge Bittner ruled that it is in the public interest to end the federal government's monopoly, which it has maintained for over six decades, on the supply of marijuana that can be used in FDA-approved research.
"This ruling is a victory for science, medicine and the public good," said Prof. Craker. "I hope the DEA abides by the decision and grants me the opportunity to do my job unimpeded by drug war politics."
The 87-page Opinion and Recommended Ruling by Judge Bittner, who is appointed by the U.S. Department of Justice, marks a unique window of opportunity in the six year struggle by MAPS and Prof. Craker to gain a Schedule I DEA license to grow research-grade marijuana for use by scientists in MAPS-funded, DEA- and FDA-approved studies.
"For decades, politicians have said 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.
The court¹s ruling is only a recommendation to DEA Deputy Administrator Michele Leonhart, however, not a binding ruling; thus, the DEA retains final decision-making authority. In response, scientists, researchers, doctors and medical marijuana patients nationwide are joining MAPS and the ACLU by encouraging the DEA to comply with the court¹s finding and to halt federal obstruction of medical marijuana research.
Prior to this recent ruling, organizations that had already written to DEA in favor of Prof. Craker's application included the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, the Lymphoma Foundation of America, the National Association for Public Health Policy, the United Methodist Church, Americans for Tax Reform, the American Medical Students Association, several state nurses' associations, the Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health, Massachusetts Senators Kerry and Kennedy, 38 members of the US House of Representatives, and the California and Texas State Medical Associations, the two largest US state medical associations.
If the DEA grants Prof. Craker a Schedule I license, his proposed research-grade medical marijuana production facility will be funded by MAPS, a non-profit research organization that plans to design, fund, and obtain government approval for the clinical trials necessary to bring marijuana to market as a fully legal, prescription medication. MAPS has had two FDA-approved marijuana studies blocked by NIDA, and would require a reliable, high-quality supply of research material to justify the time and expense to sponsor FDA-approved clinical research evaluating the risks and benefits of marijuana as a potential FDA-approved medicine.
The ACLU and the Washington D.C. law firm Jenner & Block, LLP are co-counsel for the case and are assisted by Steptoe & Johnson, LLP.
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