ACLU on Obama's Policy Regarding Medical Marijuana Research: Where's Your Scientific Integrity Now?

On Friday I noted an A.P. report saying that University of Massachusetts plant scientist Lyle Craker had given up his quest to break the federal goverment's monopoly on the production of marijuana for research. It turns out that report was premature. Yesterday the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing Craker, filed a brief that asks the Drug Enforcement Administration to reconsider its rejection of his application for a license that would allow him to compete with the government's pot farm at the University of Mississippi. Michele Leonhart, who was then the DEA's deputy administrator and has since been appointed by President Obama to head the agency, officially turned Craker down at the very end of the Bush administration, rejecting a 2007 recommendation from DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner. The new ACLU brief responds to issues raised by a December 2010 memorandum (PDF) in which Leonhart explained the reasons for her decision. The brief notes the double bind that federal policy creates for medical marijuana advocates:

The government claims that marijuana offers no medical benefit to patients, and yet the government is simultaneously cutting off access to research material for scientific studies that seek to determine what medical benefit marijuana might have. The result is that the federal government remains willfully blind to the possibility of scientific results that do not match its political preconceptions.

The ACLU says the government's obstruction of research that could demonstrate marijuana's therapeutic benefits contradicts Obama's avowed commitment to scientific integrity, as expressed in a widely publicized 2009 memo:

Science and the scientific process must inform and guide decisions of my Administration on a wide range of issues, including improvement of public health…The public must be able to trust the science and scientific process informing public policy decisions. Political officials should not suppress or alter scientific or technological findings and conclusions.

Leonhart is almost certain to say no again (maybe after another couple of years), at which point Craker, who has been fighting this battle for a decade with backing from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), can appeal Leonhart's decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Even if Craker does not ultimately win, an appeal would help lay out a complete record documenting the irrationality of the DEA's position.

The ACLU brief is here (PDF). MAPS has background on the case and links to other documents in its press release (PDF).

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.

  • ChicagoSucks||

    We must take science seriously, unless it conflicts with our political ideologies.

  • Joe R.||

    We must take science seriously, unless it conflicts with our political ideologies donors.

  • Old Mexican||

    The ACLU says the government's obstruction of research that could demonstrate marijuana's therapeutic benefits contradicts Obama's avowed commitment to scientific integrity[.]


    But only because scientific integrity contradicts Obama's political expediency - that's important to remember, kiddies!

  • Chupacabra||

    But the science is settled!

  • Old Mexican||

    But hey! Maybe people don't have a right to get high! It is government that grants rights - Tony said so, it must be true!

  • Joe R.||

    And even some of the ones they grant, they probably shouldn't.

  • Tony||

    Well, people currently don't have that right. They should, obviously.

  • ||

    You can violate a right, you can't take it away or grant it.

  • BakedPenguin||

    ...take it away or recognize it.

    /pedantic

  • BakedPenguin||

    Sorry heller, misread what you wrote.

  • ||

    You must understand, I am a Nobel Prize winner. I was in Oslo to confer, converse, and otherwise hob-nob with my brother wizards. And we have determined that the science on Marijuana is settled. It is bad.

  • ||

  • ||

    Obama lied. Nothing to see here. Move along, move along.

    CB

  • Zeb||

    I don't know why anyone is surprised anymore. Are there any campaign promises that he hasn't broken?

  • Hobie Hanson||

    Sorry, but anyone who is willing to go through years of filings and appeals against the DEA obviously has a prejudicial opinion on the question of medical "benefits" of marijuana, and thus would make a poor candidate to do this kind of research.

  • ||

    Hobie Hanson is a poor candidate for "human being."

  • Trespassers W||

    You're just all kinds of loathesome, aren't you?

  • ||

    Yes, I agree. I had a similar problem with that persistent pest Galileo. He too must have been high.

  • Zeb||

    That is just fucking stupid. If you don't know why, it is not even worth trying to explain it.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Folks, if Hobie's not even going to try, why should you reply?

  • Joe R.||

    I wouldn't belong to any club that would have me as a member.

  • Old Mexican||

    Huh? What?

  • Trespassers W||

    Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies

    *rushes off in puff of smoke to apply for unpaid internship*

  • ||

    UCLA study.

  • Almanian||

    I got yer "scientific integrity" RIGHT HERE!

  • Progressive Dreamer||

    Michele Leonhart, who was then the DEA's deputy administrator and has since been appointed by President Obama to head the agency, officially turned Craker down at the very end of the Bush administration

    Not only is Leonhart a Bush-holdover, the corporations forced Obama to make her head of the Agency. We need a stronger government to stand up to these corporations thwarting the President's progressive agenda.

  • ||

    Proof?

  • Zeb||

    Spoof.

  • BakedPenguin||

    So was Hobie (I think it's the same person).

    I don't know why anyone thought Obama would be any different on any drug issues. His Berlin speech should have disabused anyone of the notion that Obama was anything but an asshole hypocrite drug warrior (now that he's quit using.)

  • Black Francis||

    On Friday I noted an A.P. report saying that University of Massachusetts plant scientist Lyle Craker had given up his quest to break the federal goverment's monopoly on the production of marijuana for research.

    It's eduCAtional!

  • ||

    It's Frank Black now.

  • Historicus||

    US law claims cannabis and cannabinoids are in Schedule I:

    (A) The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
    (B) The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
    (C) There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

    Yet U.S. Patent No. 6,630,507 was assigned on October 7, 2003
    to the US Department of Health and Human Services:

    Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants

    Abstract

    Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.

    Got attorneys?
    see: tinyurl.com/classactionlawsuit

  • Sam||

    Historicus Nailed It

    LAWSUIT!

  • ||

    The DEA will never recognize Marijuana for anything but as a villain. It's the cornerstone of their bureaucracy, if the DEA looses Marijuana the whole agency will fall apart.

  • Matrix||

    if the DEA looses Marijuana the whole agency will fall apart
    We can only hope...

  • ||

    They are just scared, ignorant, fools! They know what the medicinal research into Cannabis is going to tell them. It cures cancer if taken in the right form, is less harmful than any other drug/plant on the entire planet, and helps for over 220 common illnesses, diseases, and common problems we as humans face everyday in our lives!

  • Rolling Rock||

    Fuckin' hippies. The greatest enemy of marijuana legalization. Followed by #2: the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs treaty

  • ||

    LOL, could you explain how marijuana cures cancer?

  • linbegone||

    Here's a few links that might shut ya up for a while. If you want more i've got about a thoursand other links to see. If ya noticed...i didnt link to any pot related cites, but to actual hospital and university studies. YES, cannabis can stop cancer

    Cancer Killer

    http://www.november.org/stayin.....iller.html

    Targeting CB2 cannabinoid receptors to treat malignant lymphoblastic disease

    http://bloodjournal.hematology...../2/627.pdf

  • Brandt||

    Marijuana is the safest drug with actual benefits for the user as opposed to alcohol which is dangerous, causes addiction, birth defects, and affects literally every organ in the body. Groups are organizing all over the country to speak their minds on reforming pot laws. I drew up a very cool poster for the cause which you can check out on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.....-2011.html Drop in and let me know what you think!

  • Progressive Dreamer||

    Well...FUCK
    looks like the FDA is asleep at the switch. Alcohol needs to be banned immediately!

  • ||

    I am 62,I have never tried it. I hope that by the day I die,I can try it legally.

  • ||

    The illegal drug trade is now estimated to be somewhere in the region of $400 billion a year ( equal to the defense budget ). This "former land of the free" arrests 1.5 million of it's citizens a year for drug law violations, half for marijuana alone, The majority of the 2.2 million inmates in the USA are incarcerated because of this insane drug war (Prohibition 2) at a staggering cost to all taxpayers and trauma to their families.

    Prisons have been filled to capacity. Violent criminals, murderers, rapists and child molesters are released early to create space for these so called drug offenders. Half of court trial time and also a huge chunk of police officers time is pointlessly wasted. Enormous untaxed profits from illegal drugs fund multi-national criminal empires which bribe law enforcement authorities and spread corruption faster than a raging bush fire. These laws take violent criminals and turn them into multi-billionaires whilst corrupting even entire countries such as Columbia, Panama, Mexico and Afghanistan. The extreme violence on and south of the border is drug gangs fighting for turf in this lucrative business. The drug laws are also funding the Taliban whose illegal opium profits allow it to buy weapons and pay it's fighters more than $300 a month, compared with the $14 paid to an Afghan policemen.

    The definition of insanity is great folly, madness, extreme senselessness, lunacy. The present drug laws cause all of the above and may therefor be deemed insane.

    There will be many of you who probably fear a theoretical free-for-all, but that overlooks one major point: That's exactly the situation we have at the moment. Sure, there are laws against the possession and sale of these drugs, but they have no impact on actually restricting either one. When we allow such drugs to remain in the criminal market, they finance the activities of street punks, violent gangs, drug lords and terrorists. That's why there is now such an urgent need to legalize, which will not only allow us to properly regulate these substances, but also strip the illegal cartels of their main income.

    So please consider the following very carefully : It wasn't the alcohol that caused the surge in crime and homicide during alcohol prohibition, it was prohibition itself. That's why many of us find it hard to believe that the same thing is not happening now. We clearly have a prohibition fueled violent crime problem. A huge number of these violent crimes are perpetrated by criminal syndicates and gangs who use the proceeds form the sales of illegal substances to further even more of their criminal activities.

    Prohibition is nothing less than a grotesque dystopian nightmare; if you support it you must be either ignorant, stupid, brainwashed, insane or corrupt.

  • mr simple||

    Preachin' to the choir, brother.

  • Matrix||

    But it's for the children!!!

  • Bryan S.||

    To quote the late George Carlin, "Fuck the Children!"

  • Historicus||

    How is it lawful to arrest anyone on the basis of a false claim, and then disallow exculpatory evidence?

    Here is the law:

    Federal law states: "Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance, §812(c), based on its high potential for abuse, no accepted medical use, and no accepted safety for use in medically supervised treatment, §812(b)(1). This classification renders the manufacture, distribution, or possession of marijuana a criminal offense. §§841(a)(1), 844(a). Pp. 6—11."

    source: http://www.law.cornell.edu/sup.....54.ZS.html

    @Jacob Sullum, @ACLU:

    How is this legal?
    reference:
    http://tinyurl.com/classactionlawsuit

    . . . @anyone?

  • ||

    Are you aware the DEA just licensed 55 pharmaceutical companies to grow pot? MSN money is running a story ("Could legal pot give Big Pharma a much-needed high?") that,

    "Just last week, the Drug Enforcement Administration said 55 unnamed companies have been granted licenses to grow cannabis in the United States. Observers say the pharmaceutical companies need the pot farms to cultivate weed so they can produce a generic version of the THC pill Marinol, which is marketed by Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (WPI ), and at least one other cannabis-based pill for a wide variety of new uses.

    But to grow pot and put organic THC and CBD in pills, the DEA to would need to move organic THC down from Schedule I to the far less restrictive Schedule III, where synthetic THC Marinol currently resides. That’s exactly what drug companies have requested. And by all indications, their wish is likely to be granted."

    In other words, if big corporations grow dope with the government and put it in a pill, it's medicine. But if you grow it at home or at a dispensary and then put it in a vaporizer, it's a felony. If they suspect you, they break down your door shoot you 22 times and accuse you of being a drug dealer as happened to a Marine veteran in Tucson recently.

    http://money.msn.com/top-stock.....01edebbea5

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