Feds Favor Anti-Pot Research

Apr 8, 2014

As the nation’s only truly legal sup­plier of mar­i­juana, the U.  S.  gov­ern­ment keeps tight con­trol of its stash, which is grown in a 12-acre fenced gar­den on the cam­pus of the Uni­ver­sity of Mis­sis­sippi in Oxford. From there, part of the crop is shipped to Research Tri­an­gle Insti­tute in North Car­olina, where it’s rolled into cig­a­rettes, all at tax­payer expense. Even though Con­gress has long banned mar­i­juana, the oper­a­tion is legit­i­mate.  It’s run by the National Insti­tute on Drug Abuse, part of the U.  S.  Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices, which doles out the pot for fed­er­ally approved research projects. While U.  S.  offi­cials defend their monop­oly, crit­ics say the gov­ern­ment is hog­ging all the pot and giv­ing it mainly to researchers who want to find harms linked to the drug. U.  S.  offi­cials say the fed­eral gov­ern­ment must be the sole sup­plier of legal mar­i­juana in order to com­ply with a 1961 inter­na­tional drug– con­trol treaty.  But they admit they’ve done rel­a­tively lit­tle to fund pot research projects look­ing for marijuana’s ben­e­fits, fol­low­ing their man­date to focus on abuse and addic­tion. “We’ve been study­ing mar­i­juana since our incep­tion.  Of course, the large major­ity of that research has been on the dele­te­ri­ous effects, the harm­ful effects, on cog­ni­tion, behav­ior and so forth,” said Steven Gust, spe­cial assis­tant to the direc­tor at the National Insti­tute on Drug Abuse, which was cre­ated in 1974. With polls show­ing a major­ity of Amer­i­cans sup­port­ing legal­iza­tion, pot back­ers say the gov­ern­ment should take a more even­handed approach.  The National Insti­tute on Drug Abuse and the White House drug czar have become favorite tar­gets to accuse of bias, with both pro­hib­ited by Con­gress from spend­ing money to do any­thing to pro­mote legal­iza­tion. Some crit­ics hope the sit­u­a­tion will change; fed­eral offi­cials recently approved a Uni­ver­sity of Ari­zona pro­posal that will let researchers try to deter­mine whether smok­ing or vapor­iz­ing mar­i­juana could help vet­er­ans with post-traumatic stress dis­or­der, known as PTSD.  The researchers got the green light to pro­vide the equiv­a­lent of two joints per day for 50 vet­er­ans. The approval was a long time com­ing. Suzanne Sis­ley, clin­i­cal assis­tant pro­fes­sor of inter­nal med­i­cine and psy­chi­a­try at the Uni­ver­sity of Arizona’s med­ical school, said the Health and Human Ser­vices Depart­ment waited more than three years to approve the project after it was first sanc­tioned by the Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion.  She said the extra fed­eral review should be scrapped and that approval by the FDA should be suf­fi­cient for a study to pro­ceed. “Nobody could explain it – it’s inde­fen­si­ble,” she said in an inter­view.  “The only thing we can assume is that it is pol­i­tics trump­ing sci­ence.” After the long delay, Sis­ley said she’s excited to get started and hopes to launch the project late this spring or early this sum­mer, after get­ting the mar­i­juana from the National Insti­tute on Drug Abuse.  She said pres­sure by vet­er­ans helped get the project approved. For crit­ics, the process is far too slow.  In the fight to sway pub­lic opin­ion, the research bat­tles have assumed a sense of urgency, with oppo­nents and pro­po­nents of legal­iza­tion scram­bling to find more evi­dence to advance their posi­tions. For oppo­nents, it means try­ing to link pot use to such things as increased high­way deaths, stu­dent dropouts and emer­gency hos­pi­tal admis­sions.  That could help defeat a plan to legal­ize pot for recre­ational use in Alaska, set for an August vote. For sup­port­ers, it means try­ing to find new ways to use pot to treat dis­eases.  That could get vot­ers in more states to approve med­ical mar­i­juana; 20 states and the Dis­trict of Colum­bia already have done so, and Florida could join the list in Novem­ber. Dan Rif­fle, direc­tor of fed­eral poli­cies for the Mar­i­juana Pol­icy Project, a pro-legalization group, said Pres­i­dent Barack Obama should end the National Insti­tute on Drug Abuse’s monop­oly and remove all other research bar­ri­ers.  The legal­iza­tion of mar­i­juana “is inevitable” and more stud­ies are needed, he said. “That is exactly why fed­eral law and poli­cies shouldn’t tie the hands of sci­en­tists by favor­ing cer­tain kinds of research over oth­ers,” Rif­fle said. The national institute’s Gust said the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is open to the idea of look­ing for more med­ical appli­ca­tions for mar­i­juana and that it’s a “red her­ring” to say that his agency is block­ing research. “This is an untruth that’s been put out there by cer­tain groups, and quite frankly I won­der if it’s not hav­ing the per­verse effect of actu­ally decreas­ing the amount of appli­ca­tions and inter­est in research,” Gust said. National Insti­tute on Drug Abuse offi­cials said they gave more than $30 mil­lion in gov­ern­ment grants to finance 69 marijuana-related research projects in 2012, a big jump from the 22 projects that received less than $ 6 mil­lion in 2003.  While the insti­tute would not pro­vide exact fig­ures, Gust said it has funded at least five to 10 projects exam­in­ing pos­si­ble med­ical appli­ca­tions. The insti­tute also pro­vides mar­i­juana for pri­vately funded projects approved by the Health and Human Ser­vices Depart­ment.  Of the 18 research appli­cants who requested mar­i­juana from 1999 to 2011, 15 got approval, offi­cials said. The Uni­ver­sity of Mis­sis­sippi received nearly $847,000 in 2013 to pro­duce and dis­trib­ute the pot for the research projects, mainly Mex­i­can, Colom­bian, Turk­ish and Indian vari­eties. The uni­ver­sity grows 6 kilo­grams ( a lit­tle more than 13 pounds ) of mar­i­juana each year, or more if the demand is higher.  Nine employ­ees are involved in the work.  Among the university’s tasks, it ana­lyzes mar­i­juana con­fis­cated by drug enforce­ment agents and sends “bulk plant mate­r­ial” to North Carolina’s Research Tri­an­gle Insti­tute, just out­side of Durham at Research Tri­an­gle Park, where mar­i­juana cig­a­rettes are pro­duced and pack­aged. Some of the pot is sent to a hand­ful of Amer­i­cans who won the right to smoke the drug for med­ical rea­sons under a court set­tle­ment in 1976, 20 years before Cal­i­for­nia became the first state to approve med­ical mar­i­juana. Source: Austin American-Statesman (TX) Copy­right: 2014 Austin American-Statesman Con­tact: letters@​statesman.​com Web­site: http://​www​.states​man​.com/

fd22fc5c9bna dea.jpg 150x99 Feds Favor Anti Pot Research

Read the orig­i­nal post:
Feds Favor Anti-Pot Research

Related Posts

Share This

Leave a Comment