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Federal Appeals Court Rejects Researcher's Bid to Grow Medical Marijuana

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #780)
Politics & Advocacy

The US First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston Monday sided with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in rejecting University of Massachusetts-Amherst scientist Dr. Lyle Craker's appeal of the agency's decision to deny him a license to grow medical marijuana for research purposes.

Professor Lyle Craker (
Craker sought to break the federal government's monopoly on the production of marijuana for research purposes. Because of hostility to research on the possible benefits of marijuana in the federal drug control and research bureaucracies, the federal monopoly on marijuana for research purposes created a bottleneck, blocking potential valuable research efforts.

The decision in Craker v. DEA caps a 12-year odyssey through federal regulatory purgatory for Craker and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, which had backed the UMass-Amherst scientist's bid to develop a source of marijuana independent of that produced under the auspices of NIDA.

"After such a long struggle, I'm disappointed that the Court failed to recognize the need for an independent source of plant material for use in research on the medical uses of marijuana," said Prof. Craker. "In doing so, they have failed the American people, especially those for whom marijuana as a medicine could help."

Craker first applied for a license from the DEA in 2001; it took the agency three years to initially deny his request. In 2007, the DEA's own administrative law judge recommended that the agency grant his application, but two years later, then DEA Deputy Administrator (and current Adminstrator) Michele Leonhart rejected that recommendation. Craker sought a formal reconsideration, which Leonhart denied in 2011.

Craker then appealed to the First Circuit, with oral arguments taking place in May 2012. In its decision Monday, the First Circuit upheld Leonhart's denial. In so doing, it dismissed Craker's claims that the DEA had changed the rules in the middle of the game and that the supply of marijuana from the NIDA facility was inadequate and uncompetitive. Leonhart's interpretation of the Controlled Substances Act was permissible and her findings were "reasonable and supported by the evidence," the court held.

"This ruling will result in sick people continuing to be denied the medicine they desperately need, and which 18 states and the District of Columbia recognize as legitimate," said Allen Hopper, criminal justice and drug policy director for the ACLU of California and one of the lawyers representing Prof. Craker. "The Obama administration must stop blocking the research necessary to take marijuana through the FDA approval process."

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Bhonze (not verified)

The DEA is Scared Shitless of the Truth! Once we have Clinical studies by Federal funded agencies They will no longer be able to Lie about the Wonderful Plant Cannabis. It would be all over with!

Wed, 04/17/2013 - 11:37am Permalink
Carl Olsen (not verified)

One of the arguments the DEA makes is that the NIDA supplies marijuana to researchers at cost or free.  How can you compete with that?  Government subsidized marijuana at cost or free is funded by U.S. taxpayers.  You can't compete with that.  My question is why we have 18 states which have accepted the medical use of marijuana in the treatment of various conditions, but not one of them has challenged the DEA's classification of marijuana as a substance with no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.  We did not see one state intervene in Craker's case to complain about this federal misclassification in Craker's case, nor did we see any state intervene in the denial of Americans for Safe Access v. DEA, No. 11-1265, in the DC Circuit.  If the voters can't see that state officials are committing treason by failing to challenge this federal misclassification, this is going to continue down the same road.  Where are the state attorneys?

Wed, 04/17/2013 - 12:45pm Permalink
Giordano (not verified)

DEA Director Michelle Leonhart’s decision to interfere in the normal progress of scientific research is a decision that hinges on her own incompetence. 

Ms. Leonhart is just another glorified jailer who rose to power in government after being educated with worthless, propagandistic fluff.  Had she been exposed to a good science education, Madame Leonhart is most likely one of those people who would have flunked out of her studies.  She’s incompetent in the sciences, based on her own ill-informed statements, and it’s well understood that incompetence cannot successfully judge competence.

So it becomes all the more bizarre when an incompetent such as Michelle Leonhart is allowed to decide the path of scientific research.  It’s like putting Nero in charge of the local fire department, or George W. Bush in charge of hurricane relief.  Just because no one else wanted the job of DEA director is no excuse for the puppet-in-charge to act like some Luddite idiot. 

Wed, 04/17/2013 - 1:47pm Permalink
Drew B (not verified)

More sick evil which was perpetrated on Monday. The bomber(s), DEA, Leonhart, NIDA, etc… all demented people who have to force their wills on others, and torture them with violence or threats of it. ALL against the Golden Rule, all against common sense, all against our Founding Documents, and all in the same manner of the worst atrocities throughout history. 


Now that mmj is legal in MA, what about them growing for some patients? I guess that would still open them up to persecution from the monsters in power who could very well do all sorts of damage to the school, the department, and Craker himself.

Thu, 04/18/2013 - 1:35am Permalink
mexweeds (not verified)

I have seen pictures of the "marijuana cigarettes" provided to a handful of patients by the NIDA's farm in Mississippi.  900-mg $igarettes are presented as the form of use condoned or recommended by the US government (a typical commercial $igarette contains 700 mg net weight of tobacco; a typical joint is 500 mg or two per gram).

This suggests to me that the US government sticks to the line laid down by the entrenched heavily $$lobbying tobacco industry which does not want anyone to think you can get away with using a Dosage Regulation utensil (25-mg single tokes) for "smoking" anything.  Once 25-mg servings of cannabis are legal what will happen to today's PROFITABLE "standard" 700-mg $igarette format?  Would the nicotine-addicted population follow after cannabis users and use up a tenth or twentieth as much tobacco per day as they now do? 

Also note that the NIDA $igarettes are said to have a low cannabinoid content-- the user is expected to "smoke" MORE carbon monoxide and combustion toxins (likely cause of dopy "stoner" symptoms conveniently blamed on the cannabis, but CONCEALED in tobacco users by the "awake" effect of nicotine) to get the same amount of desired medication.  Is this why they fear Craker's garden?

Thu, 04/18/2013 - 8:49pm Permalink
Bannister (not verified)

Weed is illegal because it makes some people smarter then the cunts we let rule us.> Some people that end up as world leaders have tried weed once and it probably found a few tokes made them feel homicidal. Normal people would smoke a weed and be laid back, So the will associate weed with peace. The ones that get a bad buzz associate weed with all the negative things.

Wed, 03/26/2014 - 6:28am Permalink

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