A University of Massachusetts researcher has applied to the federal government for a permit to grow high-quality marijuana for medical research, the Daily Hampshire Gazette reported last week. The only current government sanctioned grower of marijuana in the United States is the University of Mississippi, which has supplied the National Institute on Drug Abuse with its stash for the past 30 years.
But with the assistance of Rick Doblin's Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (http://www.maps.org), Dr. Lynn Craker, a UMass plant and soil sciences professor, has applied to operate the first privately-funded marijuana growing research facility in the country.
Actually, he has reapplied. According to a MAPS account, Craker's original application would appear to have been the victim of negligence at best: "In December 2001, DEA claimed it was lost. We subsequently resubmitted a photocopy but were told in February 2002 that the photocopied application was invalid since it didn't have an original signature. In July 2002, the original application was returned, unprocessed, with a DEA date stamp showing it had been received in June 2001. Dr. Craker resubmitted the original application to DEA on August 20, 2002, which DEA finally acknowledged receiving."
Craker intends to grow marijuana for researchers in a variety of fields, he told the Gazette. "My current thought is that there has not been sufficient testing to tell whether this is a drug that can help people or not," Craker said. "If I look at this as a potential medicinal plant, than it is our responsibility to see that this plant material is investigated, so that the questions of whether it has medical significance or not can be answered."
The DEA published public notice of Croker's application July 23 federal register. In an appalling indication of the US government's attitude, that notice specifies that the only people who may file comments or objections are those who are "presently registered with DEA to manufacture such substances...": In other words, nobody.
Still, Craker has the support of Massachusetts Congressmen John Olver, Barney Frank, James McGovern, William Delahunt and Michael Capuano, all of whom wrote to then DEA administrator Asa Hutchinson in June 2002, urging the agency to license privately funded marijuana research grows. The clock is ticking again.