A spokesperson for the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) told the New York Times in 2010 that the agency “does not fund research focused on the potential medical benefits of marijuana.”
“As the National Institute on Drug Abuse, our focus is primarily on the negative consequences of marijuana use,” NIDA spokeswoman Shirley Simson told the Times.Under federal law, the agency must approve all clinical research involving cannabis. NIDA tightly controls which investigators are allowed access to the federal government’s one supply of marijuana for research, which is grown and stored at the University of Mississippi.
NIDA exercises a near-stranglehold on the research of illegal drugs, overseeing an estimated 85 percent of the world’s research on controlled substances.
“NIDA has finally admitted to the world the ‘Catch-22’ that has been plaguing medical marijuana advocates and patients,” said NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano.”Lawmakers demand clinical research regarding the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis, but the agency in charge of such research denies that these studies are even taking place,” Armentano said.
“It’s tragic that these public officials have let political ideology, not science, determine America’s health decisions,” he said.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner ruled in 2007 that NIDA’s monopolization of marijuana research is not “in the public interest” and ordered the federal government to allow private manufacturers to produce cannabis for research purposes.
In January 2009, DEA Deputy Administrator Michele Leonhart set aside Judge Bittner’s ruling.
If Leonhart’s name sounds familiar, there’s a good reason — but it’s bad news.
George W. Bush appointee Leonhart was reappointed by President Barack Obama to head up the DEA (different administration; same old tired, morally bankrupt marijuana policies).