Pot Privatization

This week a DEA administrative law judge began hearings on an application to establish a private, independent source of marijuana for research purposes. Currently the only legal source in the U.S. is the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is notorious for being stingy with its stash, which frankly isn't of such great quality anyway. It's pretty clear that NIDA's decisions about which researchers should be allowed access to the government's pot are colored by nonscientific considerations, such as the desire to provide support for the war on drugs and to prevent cannabis from being approved as a prescription drug.

As if to prove the need to break the government's marijuana monopoly, NIDA announced just a few days before the DEA hearings that it would not supply marijuana for a study of vaporizers, which heat marijuana to release THC and other therapeutic cannabinoids instead of burning it, thereby avoiding potentially dangerous combustion products. California NORML Coordinator Dale Gieringer, whose organization is cosponsoring the study with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, had this to say:

Once again, the government has displayed its bad faith by creating a Catch-22 for medical marijuana. First, it claimed that marijuana couldn't be used as a medicine because there weren't sufficient FDA studies of safety and efficacy. Then it refused to provide marijuana to conduct the studies. Next it contended that marijuana was inappropriate for FDA approval in the first place due to the dangers of smoking. Now it is blocking the very studies called for by the IOM to develop non-smoked alternatives to smoking.

The DEA hearings are scheduled to resume on September 26, and it's not inconceivable that the judge, Mary Ellen Bittner, will rule in favor of Lyle Craker, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst plant scientist who is seeking permission to grow cannabis. As Gieringer points out, Bittner's predecessor, the late Francis Young, concluded in 1988 that the DEA ought to reclassify marijuana to make it legally available as a medicine, calling it "one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man." Young was overruled by the head of the DEA.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    Agent Sims: I'm DEA, d'you know what the f*** that means?

    Pinball: It means you're the most crooked n***** on the plane!

  • ||

    Look, there's a lot more to this than you guys realize. It's kind of an embarassing internal matter.

    See, the NIDA pot farm is supposed to provide high quality samples to legitimate researchers. Scientists have actually approved most of the aforementioned requests and sent them to the NIDA farm. But, well, the guys there spend most of their time playing hacky-sack and watching cartoons. It's really embarassing. Even worse, they routinely ransack the vending machines on the NIH campus.

    We've formed a commission to appoint a committee to issue recommendations on reform proposals, but the person who's supposed to schedule the conference room is hanging out at the NIDA farm.

  • ||

    I certainly find a large entertainment value in the government paranoia surrounding pot.

  • ||

    Lyle Kraker, if you're reading this, I can help you out if you meet me out behind Taco Bell.

  • ||

    You can't prove that something is beneficial, safe, or at least, not harmful if you don't test it! As always, the US government doesn't let anything little like "facts" or "science" stop them from their War Against ________.

  • ||

    This is one of those situations where I think well more than the majority of American�s would believe that the gov not allowing testing is foolhardy � even those who are for the drug war in some form. If the �hindering medical advancement� card is played enough in the public, I think there�s a least a shot of moving public support towards FDA approved testing. Or maybe I�m just crazy from too much of that god damn devil weed.

  • Warren||

    Yet another example of the fascist nature of the War On Drugs. I'll take this as another opportunity to mention Marc Emery, one of the more effective anti-prohibition warriors. And also to encourage you to help him out

  • ||

    The DEA will never allow marijuana to be used in vaporizers. This totally destigmatizes it by making its use look like legitimate medicine rather than some hippie smoking a joint. If it was marketed in the vaporizer as THC the only Americans who would be against it would be the DEA.

  • ||

    Where did the lab in Half-Baked get their weed? I never realized that NIDA was the only source.

  • ||

    My doctor says I need marijuana to get high.

  • ||

    "The DEA will never allow marijuana to be used in vaporizers. This totally destigmatizes it by making its use look like legitimate medicine rather than some hippie smoking a joint. If it was marketed in the vaporizer as THC the only Americans who would be against it would be the DEA."

    It's hard to film effective PSA's about guys at a drive-thru window smoking marijuana if the car isn't actually filled with smoke. This assumes, of course, that the vaporizer in question would come with an adapter for the cigarette lighter.

  • ||

    What's also funny (and somewhat unknown) is that this NIDA farm is also in existence to supply marijuana to the few remaining FEDERAL marijuana patients. That's right. The federal government supplies medical marijuana to a select few patients. Of course, it was a very limited enrollment when the program started in the late 70's, enrollment was closed when the AIDS epidemic looked to skyrocket demand and luckily enough for the government, the patients have slowly been dying off ever since, and now there's only 7 or so left.

    The whole issue of medical MJ is totally clouded for me - as the government tells me it's evil, that it has no medicinal value, and then turns around and supplies it directly to patients.

  • ||

    Actually, I think there's only one dude left, so I'm not exactly sure what they grow all that pot for. Probably to sell it, the fuckers. But from all accounts I've read, it's not even that great.

    But this has been going on for years. MAPS or some other group asks for weed to test, and the gov't says "no". Honestly, MAPS is one of the greatest organisations out there. They've got some studies coming up using psilocybin mushrooms and MDMA, hoping to use either/both for the treatment of post-traumatic stress.

  • ||

    why can't reearchers arrange with legitimate Oregon Medical MJ suppliers that are enrolled in the state system to supply funds for growing operations in exchange for plant material?

  • ||

    All of the arguments against pot go out the window when legitimate independent research is allowed.

    These vaporizers can reduce the tar in inhaled marijuan dramatically, whipsawing one of the myths of marijuana health risks: pot smoking is (insert multiplier here) times as bad for you as smoking cigarettes.

    As the potency of mj increases, it is far healthier to smoke, less being required. As vaporizers reduce the smoke harm to near nil, the drug warriors are going to have to come up with a better bogey than hemphysema.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement