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May 8, 2006

MAPS and DEA File Final Briefs for DEA Lawsuit

 

Today, a final brief (PDF) was submitted to DEA Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Mary Ellen Bittner by lawyers for Prof. Lyle Craker (lead lawyer Julie Carpenter, Jenner & Block, assisted by Allen Hopper, ACLU and Emanuel Jacobowitz, Steptoe & Johnson). Prof. Craker's lawsuit against DEA is for refusing to permit him to establish a MAPS-sponsored medical marijuana growing facility at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. DEA also filed its final brief today (PDF). We anticipate that DEA ALJ Judge Bittner will issue her recommendation to DEA Administrator Karen Tandy within the next two to four months.

If ALJ Bittner issues an unfavorable recommendation, DEA wins and there will probably be no privately-funded medical marijuana research effort ever started until a more reasonable President is in office. If ALJ Bittner does issue a favorable recommendation, we will need to organize a major coordinated campaign to obtain letters of support from members of Congress, especially Republicans, urging DEA Administrator Karen Tandy to accept the favorable recommendation. Tandy will probably take several months to study the recommendation before issuing her final ruling. During that time is our period of maximum opportunity. In these turbulent times, it does seem within our reach for us to mobilize sufficient pressure on DEA to force the acceptance of a favorable recommendation. If ALJ Bittner does issue a favorable recommendation and Tandy rejects it, we can still sue DEA in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, but that will take more time and money and will continue DEA's strategy of delay. Still, if DEA rejects a favorable recommendation, we should be able to inflict a significant blow to whatever remains of the credibility of DEA and ONDCP by showing the hypocritical nature of blocking research while supposedly objecting to medical marijuana on the basis of there not being enough research to prove that it should become an FDA-approved prescription medicine. DEA rejection of a favorable recommendation will also strengthen the case for state-level reforms.



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