Marijuana research lawsuits to be filed
Thursday, July 22, 2004
By HOLLY ANGELO
hangelo@repub.com

AMHERST - All Lyle E. Craker wants to do is grow marijuana in his lab at the University of Massachusetts to supply other scientists with the plant so studies about its medicinal benefits can take place.

But after filing an application with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration in June 2001 to establish a facility on the Amherst campus to produce marijuana for U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved research, he hasn't received a yes or no.

To get an answer, Craker has teamed with two other parties as plaintiffs in one of two lawsuits scheduled to be filed today that accuses the federal government with obstructing medical marijuana research.

"I'm hoping the lawsuit will bring a response," Craker said from his office in Stockbridge Hall yesterday, where he is the director of the medicinal plant program and member of the department of plant, soil and insect sciences.

"It's unfortunate, but the issue probably has to be forced here (in the courts)."

The two suits are supposed to be filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.

The first suit is filed by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies; Craker and Valerie Corral, a California-licensed medical marijuana patient and caregiver, against the Drug Enforcement Administration.

It seeks a decision on Craker's request and a request by Chemic Laboratories of Canton to import 10 grams of marijuana from the Dutch Office of Medicinal Cannabis for use in a medical marijuana research project investigating the safety advantages of a nonsmoking delivery device for marijuana by a vaporizer.

The second suit is filed by the association and Corral against the federal Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institutes of Health. It also seeks a final ruling by the agencies on Chemic's request for marijuana and the vaporizer study.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and National Institute on Drug Abuse would not comment on the suits.

"We're arguing unreasonable delay," said Rick E. Doblin, president of the association, based in Sarasota, Fla. "We are blocked from growing our own (marijuana) at UMass Amherst. We are blocked from importing from the Dutch Office of Medicinal Cannabis, and we are blocked from purchasing from the government's supply."

U.S. senators John F. Kerry and Edward M. Kennedy sent a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration in October 2003 expressing support for the UMass-Amherst marijuana research production facility.