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DEA faces federal lawsuit for blocking marijuana research

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Researchers hoping to study the medical benefits of marijuana are taking the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to federal court for blocking access to the plant.

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) has received free legal representation in a lawsuit against the DEA over a license to grow marijuana for federally regulated research.

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The D.C.-based law firm Covington & Burling LLP, one of the foremost law firms representing the pharmaceutical industry, has offered pro-bono legal representation to the research group to appeal the DEA’s August 15 final order in the First Circuit Court of Appeals. MAPS estimated the law firm saved them $175,000 in legal costs.

The DEA rejected University of Massachusetts professor Lyle Craker request to obtain a license to grow marijuana to study its potential medical uses, claiming that the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) can be the only one to supply marijuana for Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-regulated research.

But NIDA’s monopoly on the supply of marijuana for research has proven troublesome. Although the FDA has approved MAPS’ proposed study of marijuana for U.S. veterans with chronic, treatment-resistant posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the agency has remained silent about whether it will agree to sell MAPS marijuana for the study.

“The federal government’s official policy is that marijuana has no medical benefit,” the American Civil Liberties Union said in a legal brief. “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.”

The DEA ruled in June that marijuana should remain classified as a dangerous drug like heroin because studies have not confirmed its medicinal value, but the agency may itself be to blame for the lack of evidence.

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The use of medical marijuana has been legalized in 16 states and the District of Columbia. But, according to the DEA, marijuana cannot be considered to have medicinal value because there is a lack of scientific studies assessing its safety and efficacy as a medicine, and the scientific evidence is not widely available. The agency also noted there are no FDA-approved marijuana products at present.

But the DEA has repeatedly denied Dr. Craker’s application for the production of marijuana, blocking studies that would help determine the drug’s medical benefits.

And just days after the DEA insisted that there is no medical value to marijuana, the White House appeared to contradict the position, saying in a report that there may actually be “some” medical value to “individual components of the cannabis plant.”

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Recently, a study conducted by Haifa University in Israel found that rats which were treated with marijuana within 24 hours of a traumatic experience successfully avoided any symptoms of PTSD.

In 2009, the American Medical Association, the largest physician’s organization in the U.S., adopted a resolution calling on the DEA to reclassify marijuana to facilitate research on marijuana-based medicines.

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“Results of short term controlled trials indicate that smoked cannabis reduces neuropathic pain, improves appetite and caloric intake especially in patients with reduced muscle mass, and may relieve spasticity and pain in patients with multiple sclerosis,” the AMA’s resolution (PDF) reads.


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Kayleigh McEnany says she has no ‘data’ on whether Tulsa rally increased COVID — but city official says it likely did

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At Wednesday's White House briefing, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was confronted with the fact that President Donald Trump's rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma led to an outbreak of COVID-19 cases. Her reply was to plead ignorance: "I have no data to indicate that."

However, according to a health official in Tulsa, the pattern of cases indicates it is "likely" that it did just that.

"President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa in late June that drew thousands of participants and large protests 'likely contributed' to a dramatic surge in new coronavirus cases, Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said Wednesday," reported Sean Murphy for the Associated Press. "Tulsa County reported 261 confirmed new cases on Monday, a one-day record high, and another 206 cases on Tuesday. By comparison, during the week before the June 20 Trump rally, there were 76 cases on Monday and 96 on Tuesday."

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New Hampshire Republican officials aren’t interested in attending Trump’s upcoming rally

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President Donald Trump held a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that was supposed to be massive, but one of the main problems that came up for the team is that thousands and thousands of people signed up for tickets, who never attended. This time, they think they've figured it out, said the New York Times.

"Campaign officials believe they will be able to prevent the kind of ticket prank that helped turn Mr. Trump's rally last month," the report said, noting that the crowd was a "far smaller event than expected — but they still can't say for sure."

"Registering for a rally means you've RSVPed with a cellphone number, and we constantly weed out bogus numbers," campaign spokesman, Tim Murtaugh said. "These phony ticket requests never factor into our thinking. What makes this lame attempt at hacking our events even more foolish is the fact that every rally is general admission — entry is on a first-come-first-served basis, and prior registration is not required."

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New Lincoln Project ad tells voters to remember the Republicans who enabled Trump’s ‘circus of incompetence’

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In their latest ad, the anti-Trump conservative group The Lincoln Project targeted not the president, but Senate Republicans who have sat by and enabled him.

"Some day soon, the time of Trump will pass," said the narrator. "This circus of incompetence, corruption, and cruelty will end. When it does, the men and women in Trump's Republican Party will come to you, telling you they can repair the damage he has done. They'll beg you to forgive their votes to exonerate Trump from his crimes. Ask you to forgive their silence, their cowardice, and their betrayals as Trump wrecked this nation."

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