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Marijuana: Kalamazoo Next for a Lowest Law Enforcement Priority Initiative

Work is getting underway in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on getting an initiative making adult marijuana possession offenses the lowest law enforcement priority on the ballot, the Kalamazoo Gazette reported Monday. The effort is being led by Michigan NORML.

Lowest priority initiatives have become an increasingly popular way to advance the marijuana reform cause since the effort was pioneered in Seattle in 2003. Since then, a half-dozen California communities, Denver, and Eureka Springs and Fayetteville, Arkansas, among others, have passed similar initiatives.

Although ballot language is not yet final, organizers hope to have the issue on the November ballot. They will have to gather at least 1,273 valid signatures of registered city voters by August 14, a task organizers said they could accomplish easily. Once enough valid signatures are submitted, the Kalamazoo City Commission would have 14 days to either adopt the ordinance or put it before the voters.

Kalamazoo was chosen because it is "a progressive city with motivated activists on the ground," said Greg Francisco, director of MINORML's Southwest Michigan chapter. "Anyone who wants to use marijuana can already find it," Francisco said.

Unsurprisingly, local law enforcement is not amused. "This is a silly idea," Kalamazoo Valley Enforcement Team commander Capt. Joseph Taylor told the Gazette. "It's a roundabout way of circumventing the more difficult process of getting marijuana legalized," he said, adding that marijuana is a "gateway drug" and that violent dealers have migrated from crack cocaine to weed because of lower criminal penalties.

Feature: After Decriminalization Victory, Massachusetts Activists Fight Rear-Guard Action Against Recriminalizers

Massachusetts voters supported marijuana decriminalization by a margin of nearly two-to-one in November, despite the horrified protestations of the Bay State's law enforcement community. Now, thanks to the inclusion of a sentence in the ballot initiative and guidance from state Attorney General Martha Coakley, decriminalization foes see an opening to keep fighting their lost battle by seeking to pass municipal ordinances that would fine, or in some cases, subject to criminal penalties, people who consume marijuana in public.

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''Gutterheads'' and ''Girls 4 Ganja'' pre-lobbying party, week of Quincy hearing
Under the initiative passed in November and in effect since early this month, the maximum penalty for marijuana possession (up to one ounce) is a $100 fine. But as the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security noted in law enforcement guidelines issued earlier this month: "Question 2 permits the cities and towns to pass ordinances or by-laws prohibiting public use of marijuana or THC and to provide for additional penalties for public use. EOPSS recommends that municipalities enact such by-laws or ordinances and provide police with the option of treating public use as a misdemeanor offense. "

Attorney General Coakley was happy to help out. Her office drafted and distributed a model ordinance for banning the public use of marijuana, which could include either criminal or civil sanctions, or both. A number of Massachusetts towns and cities have expressed interest in passing such ordinances, which does not sit well with decriminalization advocates, and now battles over the ordinances are breaking out all across the state.

It hasn't gone as well for the recriminalizers as they might have expected. The first municipality to vote on an ordinance, Worchester, voted it down last week. West Newbury Police Chief Lisa Holmes asked for a public pot smoking ordinance, but the council there unanimously said no. In Methuen and Quincy, Bay State activists have managed to put local elected officials on alert that they can expect trouble if they pass such ordinances.

But those battles aren't over yet, and there are many more to be fought. In Framingham, the town board of health passed a measure amending the smoking ban to include marijuana, but state law already prohibits the lighting of tobacco or other combustible products in public buildings. In Braintree, an ordinance proposing a $500 fine for public consumption will be discussed in coming weeks. In Auburn, where the police chief said the decriminalization law was unenforceable, he is expected to draft an ordinance fining public smokers. Ordinance fights will also take place in Danvers, Everett, Haverhill, Melrose, Milford, Newburyport, North Andover, Plymouth, Revere, Wakefield, and Watertown, according to Massachusetts activists. And there are probably more to come -- or perhaps not, if a string of defeats occurs.

And if activists can mobilize in those towns like they did Tuesday night in Quincy, they might just have the recriminalizers on the run. In Quincy, more than 60 people showed up outside city hall with signs and banners to express opposition to any ordinance. Mobilized by cell phone, Facebook, MySpace, and the BostonFreedomRally.com web site, about two-thirds of the ralliers were young people, said BostonFreedomRally.com's Scott Gacek.

"Many of our people had just voted for the first time, for Obama and for decriminalization, and now they feel like their votes are being ignored," said Gacek in explaining the youth turn-out. Although the ordinance was on the agenda, the city council dithered for hours over a zoning issue, but the crowd lingered into the night, sending the council a strong message of opposition.

"The council introduced the measure and, with no discussion whatsoever, voted to send it to the public safety and ordinance committees, but it doesn't exactly look like it's on a fast track," said Gacek.

Citizen action is a good thing, affirmed Bill Downing, president of the MassCann, the Bay State NORML affiliate. "If people want to participate in these protests in places like Quincy, that's a significant thing. If people are reading this in Maine or New Hampshire or Rhode Island, they can get on our e-mail list as well as read the news on the MassCann web site and join in. Please."

For Downing, the ordinance moves are a last gasp of the anti-decrim dinosaurs. "I see this as sour grapes by the folks who lost the vote," he said. "Hopefully, people throughout the state who voted for this would see actions like that as an insult, as they well should. It may end up helping us progress toward better marijuana laws because these people are only vilifying themselves."

"Attorney General Coakley was hostile toward us from the beginning, and after the election she sent out a model ordinance," said John Leonard, a former MassCann chair and currently a board member with the Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts (DPFMA). "Now, they're jumping on this all over the place. We are in the process of formulating an action plan here at DPFMA," he said. "We're fighting these things left and right, and we need some help. We're happy that the Marijuana Policy Project came here and did the initiative, but now we're left with the aftermath."

MPP largely dictated November's initiative language and funded the campaign. Local activists had issues with some of the initiative's language, but papered over them to unite behind the campaign. In the sometimes rancorous debate in the run-up to the initiative, the language about ordinances was not an issue.

Perhaps it should have been, Leonard suggested in hindsight. "It is a shame that Question 2 allowed for public consumption laws," said Leonard. "Those are traditionally used for legal substances, like alcohol and tobacco. Marijuana is already illegal in public."

Downing also blamed the wording of Question 2 for some of the current problems. "The question itself said it didn't prevent towns from passing local ordinances. If they hadn't put that in there, this whole thing could have been avoided. Don't get me wrong," Downing continued. "We're thankful for MPP for all they did, but now we have to deal with this."

DPFMA is mobilizing to fend off the ordinances, Leonard said. "We are going to buy advertising in Quincy, which is the largest city where this is an issue, and we're going to be asking all the national organizations to chip in by adopting a town and lending their support. We want to stop this now," he said.

MPP is a bit more sanguine about the ordinances than Bay State activists. "The bottom line is really whether specific proposals are an attempt to subvert the intent of Question 2 or whether it is just a reasonable public nuisance ordinance," said MPP communications director Bruce Mirken. "If they are going to use this as a pretext to give people criminal records, then that becomes a problem." But it's Massachusetts voters who can stop the ordinances, or not, Mirken said. "It is up to local folks to decide what they're willing to tolerate and how organized they're going to get to stop something they don't like."

It's not that big a problem, said another national reform leader. "We're not worried that there will be serious damage from this," said Keith Stroup of national NORML. "It sounds like most of this is just chest-beating from the losers. They didn't like the initiative, so they run out and say 'in my town we're going to be tough,' but they are going to find that not many elected officials will want to go up against the expressed will of the voters."

"We want to make sure this law works well, and if it doesn't, we are going to need to work with people to fix it," said Stroup. "But we're not going back to arresting marijuana smokers. I think the people of Massachusetts appreciate their new law and having police pay more attention to serious crimes."

The ordinance battles will continue. At best, they will result in a resounding defeat of the recriminalizers. But even if decrim foes are able to get ordinances passed in some municipalities, it may be a pyrrhic victory: In the process of trying to do so, they are waking up a whole new generation of Bay State marijuana activists. Perhaps the local ordinance clause will turn out to be a Trojan Horse for building the drug policy reform movement.

Medical Marijuana: Bill Introduced in Minnesota, One to Come Tuesday in South Dakota

With the number of medical marijuana states growing at the rate of one a year, and with Michigan last November becoming the first state in the Midwest to embrace therapeutic cannabis, two Upper Midwest state legislatures are about to grapple with the issue -- again. A bill was introduced last week in the Minnesota legislature, and one will be introduced next week at the South Dakota statehouse.

In Minnesota, the Medical Use of Marijuana Act, SF 97, would allow patients with a physician's approval and who have registered with the state to grow up to 12 plants and possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, or to obtain that same amount from a state-regulated nonprofit. To be eligible, an individual must suffer from one of a long list of "debilitating medical conditions," including cancer, glaucoma, AIDS wasting syndrome, Hepatitis C, and MS.

The bill is nearly identical to legislation that last year passed the state Senate, but stalled in the House after Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) threatened to veto it. Pawlenty said he would veto any medical marijuana bill opposed by law enforcement.

This year's bill includes support from members of Pawlenty's party. Two Republicans are coauthors, and three more have signed on as cosponsors. Similar bipartisan support is expected in the House when a companion bill will be introduced next month.

That's not surprising given the broad popular support for medical marijuana among the Minnesota electorate. In a KTSP/SurveyUSA poll conducted last May just after Gov. Pawlenty's veto threat, 64% supported medical marijuana. Even 53% of Republicans did, something for Pawlenty and GOP legislators to keep in mind.

In neighboring South Dakota, Bob Newland of South Dakotans for Safe Access has reported that a medical marijuana bill will be filed next Tuesday by state Rep. Gerald Lange (D-Madison), with a hearing set for the following Monday.

Another Democrat, then Rep. Ron Volesky (D-Huron) introduced a medical marijuana bill in 2001, but it went nowhere, being deferred until "the 41st day" of the 40-day session. In 2006, South Dakota suffered the ignominy of becoming the only state to defeat an initiative that would have legalized medical marijuana. That effort came close, but ultimately fell short with 48% of the vote.

The South Dakota bill will have at least two cosponsors, Reps. Ed Iron Cloud (D-Porcupine) and Martha Vanderlinde (D-Sioux Falls), a registered nurse. While the odds are against this bill passing, the effort may help Newland lay the groundwork for another try at the initiative process in 2010.

Medical Marijuana: DEA Hits California Dispensary in First Raid of Obama Administration -- New President Promised End to Raids

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raided a medical marijuana dispensary in South Lake Tahoe, California, Thursday, marking the first dispensary raid during the brand new Obama administration. On the campaign trail, candidate Obama said repeatedly he would end such raids.

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DEA and SFPD dispensary raid, May 2008 (courtesy Bay Area Indymedia)
Neither the DEA nor the Obama administration had commented on the raid by Thursday evening. With the Obama administration mere days in office, many high-ranking Bush officials are still on the job, including acting DEA administrator Michele Leonhart, who has been responsible for numerous federal raids in California. The Obama administration has yet to name a new DEA head or permanent drug czar (head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy), and attorney general nominee Eric Holder is still undergoing congressional vetting.

"Whether or not this unconscionable raid on a medical marijuana provider is the fault of federal officials from the previous administration, President Obama has an opportunity to change this harmful and outdated policy," said Caren Woodson, director of government affairs for Americans for Safe Access, the leading national medical marijuana advocacy organization. "We are hopeful that these are the last remnants of the Bush regime and that President Obama will quickly develop a more compassionate policy toward our most vulnerable citizens."

During the Bush years, the DEA raided more than a hundred California dispensaries, sometimes merely seizing their medicine and cash, sometimes prosecuting their operators and sending them to federal prison. But the DEA has also gone after a medical marijuana organization in Washington state that supplied starter plants for its members, used a federal grand jury in Oregon to obtain patient records, and even threatened New Mexico officials planning to implement that state's medical marijuana distribution program.

In Thursday's raid, DEA agents hit the Holistic Solutions dispensary in South Lake Tahoe, seizing cash and medical marijuana. They made no arrests.

"President Obama must rise to the occasion by quickly correcting this problem and by keeping the promise he made to the voters of this country," said Woodson, citing Obama's repeated campaign pledges.

DEA’s Medical Marijuana Raids Continue Under Obama Administration

Uh-oh. Looks like Obama has yet to deliver on his promise to end the medical marijuana raids:

Oakland, CA -- The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raided a medical marijuana dispensary today in South Lake Tahoe, California, in the first days of the new Obama Administration. Even though President Barack Obama had made repeated promises during his election campaign to end federal raids in medical marijuana states, many high-ranking Bush Administration officials have yet to leave office. For example, still at the helm of the DEA is acting Administrator Michele Leonhart, who has been responsible for numerous federal raids in California, following in the footsteps of her predecessor Karen Tandy. Neither Eric Holder, President Obama's pick for U.S. Attorney General, nor a new DEA Administrator, have taken office yet. [Americans for Safe Access]

It’s too early to accuse Obama of turning his back on the patients he pledged to defend, but it’s a clear sign that the new president will have to take concrete steps towards ending the DEA’s controversial crusade in California. It won’t stop just because he said it would. He has to actually do something to stop this.

We’ll soon have new leadership at the Dept. of Justice and it will become perfectly clear to everyone what Obama’s priorities really are. Until then, we’re stuck with George Bush’s drug war under Barack Obama’s watch. The new administration has done its best to avoid publicly discussing marijuana policy, so let’s hope they understand that ending these raids promptly is the best way to avoid ugly headlines.

Press Release: San Bernardino Supervisors Broke Open-Meetings Law in Medical Marijuana Case, MPP Charges

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE    
JANUARY 21, 2009

San Bernardino Supervisors Broke Open-Meetings Law in Medical Marijuana Case, MPP Charges

CONTACT: Aaron Smith, MPP California policy director ................................. 707-575-9870

SAN BERNARDINO, CALIFORNIA -- San Bernardino County supervisors appear to have violated the Brown Act, California's open-meetings law, in deciding to take their lawsuit aimed at overturning part of the state's medical marijuana law to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Marijuana Policy Project charged today.

    San Bernardino and San Diego counties first challenged the state's ability to force them to issue identification cards to state-legal medical marijuana patients in the San Diego County Superior Court in December 2005. After losing in the trial court, both counties took their case to the 4th District Court of Appeals, which unanimously rejected the challenge on July 31, 2008.

    Turning down pleas from local patients and advocates, San Bernardino County supervisors voted to take the case to the California Supreme Court during their Aug. 26 closed session. In violation of the Brown Act, the board failed to notify the public of the decision during the open session that followed the vote. Advocates do not know when the decision to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was made, because the public was never notified as required by the Brown Act.

    "I have never seen such utter disdain for voters and the rule of law as has been demonstrated by San Bernardino County's supervisors on this issue," said Aaron Smith, California policy director for the Marijuana Policy Project. "The board is so embarrassed by their decision to waste public funds fighting a popular law that they are trying to hide it from the public, in clear violation of another well-established law."

    Outraged by this failure to follow the law, Fontana resident and medical marijuana patient Craig Johnson filed a written complaint with the Public Integrity Unit at the county district attorney's office. MPP director of state policies Karen O'Keefe and Smith co-signed the letter, which was sent via certified mail on Sept. 15.

    Four months have elapsed and the county has not only failed to respond to the letter but have also formally taken their challenge to the United States Supreme Court.     

    "These supervisors work for the people and must be held accountable for breaking the law," Smith said.

    With more than 26,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit http://MarijuanaPolicy.org.

####

Location: 
CA
United States

South Dakota Legislature Will Take Up a Medical Marijuana Bill This Session

South Dakota's one-man marijuana reform movement, Bob Newland, has informed the Chronicle that he has found a legislative sponsor for a medical marijuana bill and there will be a hearing soon, most likely before the end of the month. The text of the proposed bill can be read here. It would be a very pleasant surprise if this bill were to pass, and a sweet vindication for activists like Newland in the only state to fail to pass a medical marijuana legalization initiative at the polls. In the 2006 initiative, medical marijuana gained 48% of the popular vote. Earlier efforts to pass a bill in the legislature went nowhere, and the opposition to this bill will be led by Attorney General Larry Long (R), who was also point man for initiative opponents in 2006. (Who knew the AG was an MD? Oh, he isn't.) Newland sought meetings with Long in an effort to address "law enforcement concerns," but Long made it clear that he is unalterably opposed to medical marijuana. Period. Newland also has a fall-back bill prepared if, as he predicts, Republicans will be aghast at allowing patients to grow their own medicine and try to kill the bill. The fall-back bill simply allows an affirmative defense in a patients is arrested and prosecuted for his medicine.

Marijuana: Washington State Decriminalization Bill Filed

Three Democratic legislators -- state Reps. Jim Moeller, Dave Upthegrove, and Brendan Williams -- Wednesday introduced a bill to decriminalize possession of less than 40 grams of marijuana in the state of Washington. By day's end, the bill had additional nine cosponsors.

Under current Washington law, possession of up to 40 grams is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail. The penalty for pot possession also includes a mandatory minimum one-day jail sentence and $250 fine.

Although the city of Seattle pioneered the lowest law enforcement priority approach to adult marijuana possession offenses, the rest of the state has not followed suit. According to figures provided in a Seattle Stranger article by activist turned journalist Dominic Holden, there were some 11,553 people arrested on pot possession charges in 2007.

Holden quoted cosponsor Williams as saying he will make a budgetary argument for the bill. The state faces a $6 billion budget shortfall, and arresting, prosecuting, and jailing penny ante pot offenders costs the state nearly $7.5 million a year, he said, citing a study from the Washington Institute for Public Policy.

"We will frame it in terms of the tradeoff in the budget discussion and set a square alternative," Williams said. "Do you choose to provide health care for X number of children or fund criminalizing marijuana possession?"

If Washington were to pass a decriminalization bill, it would become the 13th state to do so. Most of the existing decrim states changed their laws in the 1970s, but Nevada voters chose decriminalization in 2002 and Massachusetts overwhelmingly supported it in November.

Canada: BC Supreme Court Rejects Challenge to Marijuana Law

The British Columbia Supreme Court last Friday rejected a challenge to the country's law criminalizing marijuana possession based on deficiencies in Canada's medical marijuana regime. In cases earlier this decade, some Canadian courts had held that because Canada's drug law did not provide for the therapeutic use of cannabis, the law was invalid. But in part because of changes already made to the program, the BC Supreme Court wasn't buying that argument.

In response to those earlier rulings, the Canadian government created a limited medical marijuana program, whose utility was challenged in the present case. But Justice Austin Cullen ruled that even if Canada's medical marijuana program is less than ideal, that doesn't mean recreational pot smokers win a get out of jail free card.

Pot prohibition is constitutional only as long as medical need is accommodated, Cullen conceded. "There must be a constitutionally acceptable exemption from prosecution for seriously ill people with legitimate medical needs for the drug," he wrote in the opinion in Poelzer v. Her Majesty The Queen. But even if medical need is not adequately accommodated, as some courts have ruled, "it does not follow that the prohibition on possession of marijuana is of no force and effect," Cullen held. Any remedy should be "more specifically targeted to the constitutional shortcomings" in the medical marijuana program, not an excuse for marijuana users to avoid prosecution.

Ryan Poelzer was arrested in May 2007 for smoking a joint aboard a ferry pulling into Langdale, BC. Police searched him as he disembarked and found about five ounces of marijuana and a quarter-ounce of hashish. He was charged with marijuana possession, convicted, and handed six month's probation.

With the aid of attorney Kirk Tousaw, Poelzer appealed, arguing that defects in the medical marijuana law rendered marijuana prohibition invalid and, alternately, that conflicting court rulings had left the legal situation so muddied that prosecutions should be considered an abuse of process. But while provincial courts in Ontario had held the marijuana law invalid because of the medical marijuana problem, neither the federal nor the BC courts had.

"In British Columbia, there is no binding authority that [the marijuana law] is of no force and effect in the absence of a constitutionally acceptable exemption for medical marijuana users," Cullen ruled. To rule otherwise "would be to fashion or provide a remedy that in the words of the Ontario Court of Appeal would be 'overly broad and inadequately tailored to the constitutional deficiencies in the [medical program].'"

Looks like it's back to the drawing board for Canada's legalizers, at least on the West Coast.

Feature: Politics Trumps Science as DEA Rejects Researcher's Request to Grow Marijuana for FDA-Approved Studies

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Wednesday blocked the years-long effort of a University of Massachusetts-Amherst researcher to end the federal government's monopoly on the supply of marijuana available for research. In doing so, the agency overruled its own Administrative Law Judge, Mary Ellen Bittner, who nearly two years ago formally recommended that the project be approved.

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Lyle Craker (courtesy aclu.org/drugpolicy/)
UMass-Amherst Professor Lyle Craker initially filed a petition in June 2001 seeking to cultivate research-grade marijuana for use by researchers in Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved studies aimed at developing the plant as legal prescription medicine. Currently, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is the sole source of marijuana for researchers, but that agency has repeatedly refused to make it available for privately-funded, FDA-approved studies seeking to develop smoked or vaporized marijuana into a prescription medication. Researchers have also complained about the quality of the marijuana produced at the federal government's Mississippi pot farm.

From the beginning, Bush administration officials have been unresponsive or sought to delay the proceedings in the Craker case. The DEA first did not respond to Craker's requests for status reports on his request, then told him it had lost his filing. When he submitted a photocopy, the DEA rejected that as improper. It took until 2004 for the agency to get around to rejecting Craker's request, and ever since then for that rejection to go through the administrative appeal process.

It was during that process that DEA Administrative Law Judge Bittner made her formal recommendation supporting Craker's request: "I conclude that granting Respondent's petition would not be inconsistent with the Single Convention, there would be minimal risk of diversion of marijuana..., that there is currently an inadequate supply of marijuana available for research purposes, that competition in the provision of marijuana for such purposes is inadequate, and that the Respondent has complied with applicable laws and has never been convicted of any violation of any law pertaining to controlled substances," Bittner wrote as she weighed the factors involved in her decision. "I find there that Respondent's registration to cultivate marijuana would be in the public interest."

Judge Bittner's recommendation was based largely on the fact that marijuana is the only Schedule I drug that the DEA prohibits from being produced by private laboratories for scientific research, which has resulted in a unique government monopoly that fundamentally obstructs appropriate research and regulatory channels. Other controlled substances, including LSD, MDMA, heroin and cocaine, are available to researchers from DEA-licensed private laboratories.

In contrast, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) remains scientists' sole source of marijuana, despite the agency's repeated refusal to make marijuana available for privately-funded, FDA-approved studies that seek to develop smoked or vaporized marijuana into a legal, prescription medicine.

As Judge Bittner concluded, "NIDA's system for evaluating requests for marijuana has resulted in some researchers who hold DEA registrations and requisite approval from [HHS and FDA] being unable to conduct their research because NIDA has refused to provide them with marijuana. I therefore find that the existing supply is not adequate."

But just as was the case with DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis Young's famous 1988 recommendation that marijuana was among the safest therapeutically active substances known to man and should be rescheduled, Bittner's recommendation was also ignored by her own agency. In the final decision issued this week, the DEA simply rejected most of Bittner's findings, and rejected Craker's petition.

"I am saddened that the DEA is ignoring the best interests of so many seriously ill people who wish for scientific investigations that could lead to development of the marijuana plant as a prescription medicine," said Professor Craker. "Patients with serious illnesses deserve legitimate research that might establish medical marijuana as a fully legal, FDA-approved treatment. Today, that effort has been dealt a serious blow."

Craker wasn't the only one protesting. The ACLU Drug Law Reform Project, the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) all supported Craker's quest, and all blasted the DEA decision.

"It's no surprise that an administration that has rejected science again and again has, as one of its final acts, blocked a critical research project," said MPP director of government relations Aaron Houston. "With the new administration publicly committed to respecting scientific research and valuing data over dogma, this final act of desperation isn't surprising, but the true victims are the millions of patients who might benefit."

"With one foot out the door, the Bush administration has once again found time to undermine scientific freedom," said Allen Hopper, litigation director for the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project. "In stubbornly retaining the unique government monopoly over the supply of research marijuana over the objections of DEA's own administrative law judge, the Bush administration has effectively blocked the proper regulatory channels that would allow the drug to become a wholly legitimate prescription medication."

"The DEA and NIDA, but not the FDA, are clearly frightened of permitting privately-funded, scientific research into the risks and benefits of the medical uses of marijuana," said Rick Doblin, president of MAPS. "We need the Obama Administration to reverse this egregious suppression of scientific research that the outgoing administration so fears will reveal inconvenient truths."

Despite the DEA rejection, these are the waning days of the Bush administration, and this isn't over yet. Look for another lawsuit or an appeal to the Obama administration, said Doblin.

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