A Growing Debate

A Growing Debate
Posted by CN Staff on February 19, 2007 at 20:53:10 PT
By Stella Cernak, Collegian Staff 
Source: Massachusetts Daily Collegian 
Massachusetts -- There is no denying that the University of Massachusetts is a veteran when it comes to making national headlines. Throughout the nation, UMass is known for its sport victories, academic achievements, student activism, large student body and of course, a few heated riots. Since last Tuesday however, UMass was recognized for something new, yet fitting for such a unique and innovative University - medicinal marijuana research.
Standing alongside UMass throughout unusual headlines, was the source of last week's media stir: UMass Professor Lyle Craker. After six years of attempts to obtain a license to perform studies of medicinal marijuana, an administrative law judge has finally opened a window of opportunity for Professor Craker. This Tuesday, the judge made a nonbinding ruling which suggested the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to allow Craker to pursue his research at UMass. DEA administrator, Karen Tandy, who has made no comment on the issue, will make the final decision on this ruling. In the past, the DEA has been wary to grant Craker his requests for a reason which is twofold. First, there are the international treaties which limit the U.S. to one production facility of medicinal marijuana, and second due to fear that extending production to other owners would lead to increased illegal uses. However, Dr. Craker, along with UMass' Vice Provost for Research, Paul Kostecki, made it very clear that this research would not encourage illegal uses of the drug in any way. "We will ensure that the research is sound and that there is strict security, no safety issues," Kostecki said. Kostecki, who has known Dr. Craker for years, also emphasized the professor's credibility. "Dr. Craker is a national leader in the area of medicinal use of plants. I've followed his pursuit of this line of research for years, and he's followed all correct procedures despite running against DEA opposition." He also makes note that Dr. Craker's research will not have a negative impact on the university, explaining that the funding Dr. Craker will receive comes from an outside group unsatisfied with amount and quality of marijuana plants used in research today. Currently, all research on the medical benefits of marijuana in the U.S. is conducted under DEA controlled studies at the University of Mississippi. The medical benefits of marijuana are widely known, being cited in most medical journals as helping to treat nausea, seizures and patients with serious conditions such as cancer and HIV/AIDS. Yet, medical research on marijuana is limited because of limitations set by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the DEA. As the NIDA Web site recognizes, marijuana is designated to the most restrictive drug category, meaning, "that the drug in its usual form has a high potential for abuse and has no commonly accepted medical use in this country." The NIDA recognizes the possible benefits of marijuana but states that, "little data from clinical trials are available to support or refute these claims."These restrictions have fueled Dr. Craker and a group of California researchers who plan on financially backing his studies, to pursue marijuana research even further. "The government, through the NIDA and the DEA, control all legal uses of this plant material, deciding who can legally grow and who can legally evaluate any medical benefits. Thus, they can control any test results," Dr. Craker states. Although he recognizes that these organizations are simply doing their job by protecting people from potential drug abuse, he also recognizes that the stigma that marijuana carries can inhibit the research of its benefits. He states that there must be a "change in political attitudes that can be directed to the protecting agencies indicating that testing for medical use is okay."Jim Fox, UMass student and member of the Cannabis Reform Coalition, although excited by last Tuesday's news, expressed concerns with the DEA's control of marijuana studies. "I think it's a good idea for him [Dr. Craker], to do these studies at UMass." He states, "It's good that it's going to be a high quality supply for research as opposed to that which the feds grow in Mississippi, which is low quality." He also adds, "The DEA grows marijuana that's lower quality to fudge results." Ann Russell, also a member of the coalition, recognizes the benefits of this research in transforming the fear that surrounds marijuana. "I think that if people see that you can do research on marijuana, the fear around the drug will subside a bit," she stated.As much as the coalition was pleased by last Tuesday's news, Fox made it clear that Dr. Craker's research will have no affect on UMass' stance on recreational use of marijuana or any other drug on campus. Most students, such as UMass student Sonya James, realize this, and are in support of Dr. Craker's pursuits. "The government shouldn't be able to control everything," she said, "I think if they're really doing research, and he can prove it, then why not allow it?"UMass student Christopher Scot Bartelson agrees with the research but emphasized that it's important to conduct the research properly. "I think it is important that background research should be done on the professor and make sure he has a thorough and detailed outline showing what he plans to do with the marijuana so that he is not just obtaining it to brag or possibly use it in an inappropriate way." "The only reason that this is a big deal in the first place is because it is the infamous 'marijuana', which has basically become a beacon of illegal fun in our society," Bartelson added. This beacon of "illegal fun" as Bartelson suggested, could be a major reason why Dr. Craker has faced such opposition from the DEA. He has received support however, from many groups, including the ACLU and the university. Kostecki said, "This is what a university is supposed to do - support research, especially that which can be used for the good of society. We have all the confidence in the world in Lyle." Note: Professor pursues marijuana research.Source: Massachusetts Daily Collegian (MA Edu)Author: Stella Cernak, Collegian Staff Published: February 20, 2007Copyright: 2007 Daily CollegianContact: http://www.DailyCollegian.comRelated Articles & Web Site:MAPS Ole Miss May Get Competition in Growing Research a New Field at UMass? Tells U.S. To Grow More Pot
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Comment #1 posted by doc james on February 21, 2007 at 06:20:15 PT
what a bunch of b.s.
for nothing. THe whole of the reform community knows the so called medicine grown down at the farm is of low quality, freeze-dried green schwagg. It's a total shell game. If medical research is ever allowed to be done it should be using the right genetics to begin with. Hey big government, give me a small business loan and I guarantee you will get medical grade herb that should be used in research. Also stop being so stingy with the crapp you do have, spread it around so all can see you are ripping people off. back 2 the bongly.......
relegalize it-don't criticize it!
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