Craker v. DEA

Unknown Craker v. DEA One thing that has become a bit disheartening over the course of this recent spring of legalization is the lack of documented research about marijuana. Sure we’ve been using it for centuries - brewing it in tea, baking it in brownies, using it as medication and smoking it in just about any contraption you can think of - but as states move forward with new policy, it is becoming more evident just how weak the scientific understanding of marijuana is. Federal funding for medical marijuana research has decreased - from a peak budget in 2007 of $131 million to $91 million in 2012 - a 31% drop. With a handful of states set to outright legalize the drug and plenty more already building the framework for medical industries, research cutbacks could not have come at a worse time. Data is needed to help guide legalizing states on the wide range of issues they face in installing new law infrastructures, such as information about safe blood-intoxication levels to implement road safety legislation. In light of this disconnect between Federal and public need, the decision this week to deny academic-growing rights to a private researcher - Dr. Lyle Craker, a University of Massachusetts-Amherst scientist - was met with frustration. In 2001, Dr. Craker decided he’d had enough of dealing with state run marijuana dispensaries, which he claims were monopolies producing inadequate product, and would grow his own subject plants. He filled out the necessary paperwork and sent off an application for a license to the DEA. That first application took three years for the agency to reject, but resulted in a battle consuming the next 12 years of Dr. Craker’s career.   In 2007, a DEA internal judge recommended that the agency grant the doctor his license, but after thinking about it for an additional two years, Michele Leonhart - DEA Deputy Administrator at the time - ignored this suggestion. Craker persevered, seeking formal reconsideration, but was denied by Leonhart once more in 2011. In 2012, Craker appealed to the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals, giving oral statements to back his right to grow, yet this past Monday courts again ruled against Craker. The court chose to uphold Leonhart’s 2011 decision, on the grounds that they found her application of the Controlled Substances Act “reasonable and supported by evidence.”   Allen Hooper, a drug policy director in California and attorney for Dr. Craker in this case, said that  “this ruling will result in sick people continuing to be denied the medicine they desperately need, and which 18 states and the District of Columbia recognize as legitimate.” More so than anyone, Dr. Craker himself appeared saddened by Monday’s news. "After such a long struggle, I'm disappointed that the Court failed to recognize the need for an independent source of plant material for use in research on the medical uses of marijuana,” Craker related. “In doing so, they have failed the American people, especially those for whom marijuana as a medicine could help."

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