For decades, the federal government has been the nation's only legal producer of marijuana for medical research. Working with growers at the University of Mississippi, the National Institute on Drug Abuse has controlled both the quality and distribution of the drug for the past 36 years. But for the first time the government's monopoly on research marijuana is under serious legal challenge. The effort is being spearheaded by a group that wants to produce medicines from currently illegal psychedelic drugs and by a professor at the University of Massachusetts who has agreed to grow marijuana for the group if the government lets him.
"By controlling who can research marijuana and how they can do it, the DEA has greatly limited promising research that could lead to [government] approved medications," [Richard] Doblin [president of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)] said. The problems, he said, are not limited to winning approval to buy the Mississippi marijuana. Doblin and other researchers contend that the government marijuana is low in quality and potency and could never be a stable source of basic ingredients if the Food and Drug Administration ever did approve a marijuana-based medication.
To me, this bears some resemblance to federal government funding restrictions on stem cell research: complex political and societal judgments about right and wrong stand in the way of research that, if successful in producing technology that reduces human suffering, would likely result in adjustments to those judgments. On the other hand, there's no sense in giving science a blank check just because its purpose is noble.
What to do?
Link to Washinton Post story.