maps bulletin - volume xiv - number 1 - summer 2004
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MAPS Medical Marijuana Research Projects continued federal obstruction of vaporizer research and UMass Amherst production facility
by Rick Doblin, PhD

Both the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) are pursuing the classic bureaucratic strategy of unreasonable delay and inaction in response to MAPS' efforts to mount a serious research program aimed at developing marijuana into an FDA-approved prescription medicine. The Bush Administration's rhetoric that the issue of the medical use of marijuana should be decided by scientific research rather than state initiatives, legislative actions, or lawsuits, rings increasingly hollow in the face of prolonged obstruction of research.


Chemic Labs has conducted over $75,000 of MAPS and California NORML-funded research into the chemical constituents of the vapors produced by marijuana vaporizers (for more details, see On June 24, 2003, Chemic formally applied to NIDA to purchase ten grams of marijuana at cost to continue its research, and applied to DEA to import ten grams from the Dutch Office of Medicinal Cannabis of higher potency marijuana not available from NIDA. NIDA claimed it needed to determine if the submitted protocol was "scientifically meritorious" before determining if Chemic would be permitted to purchase ten grams of its material. DEA stated it wouldn't even bother to review the import permit application until after NIDA had determined the protocol was "scientifically meritorious."

MAPS' challenge is to raise the costs of federal obstruction of research, so that researchers are no longer locked out of their labs and patients are no longer locked into prison.

Almost a year later, the protocol has not yet been reviewed. Furthermore, the person Chemic was most recently told was in charge of the review, Rear Admiral Dr. Arthur J. Lawrence, Assistant Surgeon General, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health (Opera- tions), informed Chemic on March 17, 2004, that "the responsibility for conducting the reviews is in the process of being transferred to a different unit of the Department. At the moment, I don't have the ability to specify where this particular protocol is in the pro- cess." As of May 12, 2004, repeated efforts to determine where the protocol is in the review process have met with no reply. Meanwhile, Dr. Donald Abrams' FDA-approved clinical study comparing cannab- inoid blood levels, carbon monoxide levels, and subjective effects in subjects (who at different times smoke marijuana or inhale the vapors from a vaporizer), currently awaits NIDA marijuana.


In June 2001 Prof. Lyle Craker, Director of the Medicinal Plant Program at the UMass Amherst Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, submitted an application to DEA for a license to establish a facility to produce high-potency marijuana for use exclusively in federally-approved protocols (for more information, see mmjfacility.html). After years of ignoring the application, DEA finally followed federal regulations and posted a notice of the application in the Federal Register, with a public comment period that ended September 23, 2003. DEA has yet to issue a ruling, despite receiving an October 23, 2003 letter from Massachusetts Senators Kennedy and Kerry supporting the licensing of the UMass Amherst facility.


The Bush Administration is clearly frightened of objective scientific research into the risks and benefits of the medical uses of marijuana. MAPS' challenge is to raise the costs of federal obstruction of research, so that researchers are no longer locked out of their labs and patients are no longer locked into prison.

< Return to Table of Contents: Summer 2004 Issue - "10 stamps and $250,000"
Spring 2010 Vol. 20, No. 1 Special Edition: Psychedelics, Death and Dying
Autumn 2009 Vol. 19, No. 3 MAPS Financial Report: Fiscal Year 2008-09
Summer 2009 Vol. 19, No. 2 MAPS Research Update 2009
Spring 2009 Vol. 19, No. 1 Special Edition: Psychedelics and Ecology
Winter 2008/09 Vol. 18, No. 3 MAPS 2008 Financial Report
Summer 2008 Vol. 18, No. 2 Phoenix Rising: A Review of MAPS Research
Spring 2008 Vol. 18, No. 1 Special Edition: Technology and Psychedelics
Winter 2007 Vol. 17, No. 3 MAPS 06-07 Fiscal Yearly Report
Autumn 2007 Vol. 17, No. 2 Special Edition: Psychedelics and Self-Discovery
Spring/Summer 2007 Vol. 17, No. 1 The Chrysalis Stage
Winter 2006-7 Vol. 16, No. 3 Low Maintenance/High Performance
Autumn 2006 Vol. 16, No. 2 Technologies of Healing
Spring 2006 Vol. 16, No. 1 MAPS' 20th Anniversary
Winter 2005 Vol. 15, No. 3 MAPS final year as a teenager
Summer 2005 Vol. 15, No. 2 Israel Conference: MDMA/PTSD Research
Spring 2005 Vol. 15, No. 1 Accelerating flow of work and time
Autumn 2004 Vol. 14, No. 2 Rites of Passage: Kids and Psychedelics
Summer 2004 Vol. 14, No. 1 10 stamps and $250,000
Winter 2003 Vol. 13, No. 2 Holy Fire
Spring 2003 Vol. 13, No. 1 60th Anniversary of the Discovery of LSD
Autumn 2002 Vol. 12, No. 3 Vision
Summer 2002 Vol. 12, No. 2 "From celebration to frustration, and back again."
Spring 2002 Vol. 12, No. 1 Sex, Spirit & Psychedelics 2002
Autumn 2001 Vol. 11, No. 2 "In the future, it will be called Despair."
Spring 2001 Vol. 11, No. 1 "A Tidal Wave of Ecstasy!"
Autumn 2000 Vol. 10, No. 3 Creativity 2000
Summer 2000 Vol. 10, No. 2 Endings and Beginnings
Spring 2000 Vol. 10, No. 1 Making History in Slow Motion
Winter 1999/00 Vol. 9, No. 4 To the Ends of the Earth for MDMA Research...
Autumn 1999 Vol. 9, No. 3 MAPS' long-standing efforts to conduct...
Summer 1999 Vol. 9, No. 2 MAPS has come full circle...
Spring 1999 Vol. 9, No. 1 Patience, persistence and passion
Winter 1998/99 Vol. 8, No. 4 One of special pleasures of directing MAPS...
Autumn 1998 Vol. 8, No. 3 The Ayahuasca Issue (with Hofmann interview)
Summer 1998 Vol. 8, No. 2 Emotionally Powerful Anecdotes...
Spring 1998 Vol. 8, No. 1 Death Has a Way of Focusing One's Attention
Autumn 1997 Vol. 7, No. 4 Celebration is in Order
Summer 1997 Vol. 7, No. 3 Time Horizons
Spring 1997 Vol. 7, No. 2 Synchronicity
Winter 1996/97 Vol. 7, No. 1 Learning to Crawl
Autumn 1996 Vol. 6, No. 4 An Invitation for Dialogue
Summer 1996 Vol. 6, No. 3 Budding Research
New Year 1996 Vol. 6, No. 2 Sending Down Roots
Autumn 1995 Vol. 6, No. 1 Baby Steps
Summer 1995 Vol. 5, No. 4 Opportunity Amidst Obstacles
Winter 1994/95 Vol. 5, No. 3 Clinical Trials and Tribulations
Autumn 1994 Vol. 5, No. 2 Building Towards Clinical Trials
Summer 1994 Vol. 5, No. 1 Politics and Protocols: In Search of a Balance
Spring 1994 Vol. 4, No. 4 Laying the Groundwork
Winter 1993/94 Vol. 4, No. 3 A Time of Tests
Summer 1993 Vol. 4, No. 2 So Close Yet So Far
Spring 1993 Vol. 4, No. 1 Remembrance and Renewal
Winter 1992/93 Vol. 3, No. 4 Forging New Alliances
Summer 1992 Vol. 3, No. 3 Building on Common Ground
Spring 1992 Vol. 3, No. 2 Small Steps, Gradual Progress, New Opportunities
Winter 1991/92 Vol. 3, No. 1 The Rekindling of a Thousand Points of Light
Summer 1991 Vol. 2, No. 2 MDMA protocol development with cancer patients
Winter 1990/91 Vol. 2, No. 1 MAPS' Swiss pharmacologically-assisted psychotherapy conference
Autumn 1990 Vol. 1, No. 3 What and Who is MAPS?
Summer 1989 Vol. 1, No. 2 Switzerland Leads the Way
Summer 1988 Vol. 1, No. 1 MDMA can become a legal medicine