University Fails in Bid to Grow Marijuana
December 13, 2004
Donald G. McNeil Jr., New York TimesA longstanding request to grow marijuana at the University of Massachusetts so it can be tested for medical uses has been turned down by the Drug Enforcement Administration. The decision was faxed to the university on Friday and made public yesterday by the Marijuana Policy Project, an independent group that favors legalization of marijuana, particularly for medical uses.
A spokeswoman for the D.E.A. said the agency would have no comment beyond its order, which gave the university 30 days to appeal.
The dispute is over marijuana in its smoked or vaporized form. Capsules of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, one of the plant's active ingredients, can be prescribed in many states for cancer and AIDS patients suffering nausea and appetite loss. But proponents of medical marijuana argue that the inhaled form is more effective and contains more than 50 active ingredients that the capsules do not.
In its order, drug agency said the lone government-licensed marijuana farm, operated by the University of Mississippi, grew enough for researchers. It said that 18 medical studies using the drug had been approved since 2000.
But Dr. Lyle E. Craker, the professor of plant biology at the University of Massachusetts who applied for the license three years ago, said researchers complained that the government's marijuana was weak and that it was hard to get permission to use it.
'We wanted to have a source independent from the government and with a known potency so doctors can run clinical trials,' he said. Researchers would still have needed D.E.A. permission to work with the drug.