Court Snuffs Professor’s Bid to Grow Pot | Courthouse News Service
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Court Snuffs Professor’s Bid to Grow Pot

BOSTON (CN) - The 1st Circuit refused to review a University of Massachusetts professor's denied application to grow marijuana for research purposes.

Armed with a grant from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, Lyle Craker, a professor with the Plant, Soil and Insect Sciences Department of the University of Massachusetts, tried in 2001 to register with the Drug Enforcement Administration so that he could manufacture marijuana for clinical research.

Craker's patron aims to develop marijuana into a prescription medicine approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Since 1968, the only entity registered to manufacture marijuana is the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi. The center's contract, which is opened to competitive bidding every five years, is administered by the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA), a component of the National Institutes of Health under the Department of Health and Human Services.

Craker neared victory in 2007, when an administrative law judge advised the DEA to grant his application in 2007, finding that contracted supply was inadequate because NIDA refused to supply some researchers who held DEA registrations and HHS approvals.

A DEA deputy administrator nevertheless rejected Craker's application in 2009, finding that the supply and quality of NIDA-administered marijuana could meet the needs of the research community. Though Craker apparently complained of the product's inferior taste, potency and freshness, researchers have otherwise shown "overall satisfaction" with the marijuana they receive from NIDA, the administrator noted.

A three-judge panel of the 1st Circuit refused to review the DEA's denial, finding that the administrator's decision had been reasonable and supported by the record.

Unraveling Craker's claims of a monopoly in the sphere of marijuana manufacturing, the court found "nothing improper in the administrator's approach."

"This is not an anti-trust case, and Dr. Craker does not point to any authority suggesting that anti-trust laws must guide the 'adequacy of competition' inquiry or that price considerations must not," Judge Jeffrey Howard wrote for the panel. "That the current regime may not be the most competitive situation possible does not render it 'inadequate.'"

Craker furthermore failed to dispute the administrator's finding that "there were over 1000 kilograms of marijuana in NIDA possession, an amount which far exceeds present research demands and 'any foreseeable' future demand," according to the ruling.

"The fact that Dr. Craker disagrees with the method by which marijuana research is approved does not undermine the substantial evidence that supports the Administrator's conclusion or render that conclusion arbitrary or capricious," Howard wrote.

Craker issued a statement about the ruling, saying, "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. In doing so, they have failed the American people, especially those for whom marijuana as a medicine could help."

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