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U.S. War On Drugs Takes No Prisoners

The Republican, Editorial, 29th August 2005

The federal government says it won't approve the use of marijuana as a prescription medicine because it hasn't seen any scientific evidence to prove that it has any health benefits.

So what happened when Lyle Craker, a plant and soil sciences professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, applied to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for a permit to grow high-grade marijuana for scientific research in 2001?

The DEA lost his application.

And then it said he had not filled out the forms correctly.

And then it sent two DEA agents to the Amherst campus to discourage the university.

And finally the DEA rejected his application.

Last week, Craker appealed the decision to an administrative law judge.

When the DEA looks at Craker, it can't decide whether he's Cheech or Chong. He is neither. It's time the DEA stopped fighting the war on drugs in his plant rooms on the Amherst campus and gave him an opportunity to grow high-grade marijuana for research.

For a federal government that has been waging a decades-long war on drugs with little measurable success, it is difficult, if not impossible, to admit that there might be some medical benefit to marijuana. This was demonstrated by John Ashcroft when he spent much of his tenure as attorney general threatening to prosecute sick people in California for using medical marijuana while the rest of the nation lived in fear of another terrorist attack.

In a 6-3 decision in June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that strict federal drug laws prevailed over the California law, but Justice John Paul Stevens suggested in his majority opinion that Congress has the authority to change the law that classifies marijuana as a dangerous drug.

The refusal of the DEA to give Craker permission to grow marijuana suggests that it doesn't want the drug to ever be available as a prescription medication. Much of the government research being done today on marijuana asks scientists to find its harmful effects, not its potential benefits.

Congress should put an end to that reefer madness.

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