DEA Eliminates 48-Year-Old Monopoly on Research-Grade Marijuana, Clearing Pathway for FDA Approval and Rescheduling

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced their intention to grant licenses to additional marijuana growers for research, thereby ending the DEA-imposed 48-year monopoly on federally legal marijuana.  Since 1968, the University of Mississippi, under contract to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), has maintained the only facility in the United States with federal permission to grow marijuana for research.

“It’s a complete and total end of the NIDA monopoly! There has been no production monopoly on any other Schedule I substance, like MDMA or LSD—only the cannabis plant. Licensing non-government cannabis producers, and thereby creating a path to FDA approval, will finally facilitate the removal of marijuana from Schedule I, and ultimately allow patients to receive insurance coverage for medical marijuana,” said Rick Doblin, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).

MAPS has been working to eliminate this cannabis research blockade since 1999. NIDA’s marijuana is eligible for research, but cannot be sold as a prescription medicine, making it unacceptable to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in future Phase 3 studies.  Ending the monopoly finally allows for a pathway to FDA approval for marijuana, which would thereby trigger rescheduling.

In 2001, MAPS partnered with University of Massachusetts-Amherst Professor Lyle Craker, Ph.D., to apply for a DEA license and end the monopoly. In 2007, after years of bureaucratic delays and lengthy legal hearings, a DEA Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) recommended that it would be in the public’s interest to grant Craker the license. In 2009, after almost two more years of delays and less than a week before the inauguration of President Obama, former DEA Administrator Michelle Leonhart rejected the ALJ recommendation. In 2011, Craker sued the DEA in the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals. In its 2013 decision, the Court uncritically accepted the DEA’s arguments that NIDA’s monopoly provided “an adequate supply produced under adequately competitive conditions.”

Read more at http://www.maps.org/