NIDA Acknowledges Drawbacks to Monopoly on Marijuana Supply

  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Associate June 25, 2015

    NIDA Acknowledges Drawbacks to Monopoly on Marijuana Supply

    Members of the US Senate at a hearing yesterday expressed skepticism in regard to federal policies limiting the ability of investigators to engage in clinical studies of marijuana’s health benefits.

    Senators heard from representatives from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), University of Mississippi Medical Center, Arrowhead Regional Medical Center and Project SAM on a variety of issues

    The hearing’s most noteworthy moment came when Nora Volkow, director of NIDA, acknowledged that the monopoly on marijuana cultivation for research purposes ought to be amended. Currently, NIDA contracts strictly with the University of Mississippi to grow marijuana for use in research studies. This has led to a cannabis supply that is often delayed significantly and lacking in quality.

    Dr. Volkow was supported in her acknowledgement by Dr. Douglas Throckmorton, Deputy Director for the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research with the FDA who answered, “Yes, I think there are advantages to a broad supply of varied marijuana.”

    When questioned on whether or not other drugs in the Schedule 1 classification experience this same monopoly, Dr. Volkow said no and there was no scientific reason to treat them differently.

    This acknowledgement by Dr. Volkow falls in line with a previous ruling by a DEA administrative law judge in 2007 which was later set aside by former DEA Director, Michele Leonhart.

    Other topics discussed at the hearing included expanded access programs which have currently authorized treatment for 400 patients in the U.S. using Epidiolex. Epidiolex is a formulated product containing cannabidiol (CBD) that possesses orphan drug status from the FDA to treat pediatric epilepsy.

    While it is clear that Senators Gillibrand (D-NY) and Booker (D-NJ) are making strides to reform federal medical marijuana law, it remains to be seen if Senator Grassley (R-IA), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) will also take action.

    21 responses to “NIDA Acknowledges Drawbacks to Monopoly on Marijuana Supply”

    1. Galileo Galilei says:

      I enjoyed reading this until the very last sentence:

      “…it remains to be seen if Senator Grassley (R-IA), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) will also take action.”

    2. mexweed says:

      It is well known and pictorially documented on web that the University of Mississippi Monopoly oops sorry Medical Center rolls its “medical” cannabis into big 900-mg $igarettes, each containing enough herb for thirty-six (36) single tokes in a 25-mg.-capacity screened one-hitter. I have seen a picture of a tin with a hundred or more of these “Megajoints” in it, evidently designed to be ignited and used up in minutes, with puff temperatures approaching 700C etc.

      Conflict of interest? Why doesn’t Dr. El Sohly, reportedly the director there, look after the health interests of the legitimate signed-up patients by providing herb in a way designed to be vaporized (or at least single-toked), thus protecting against $moking-related illness (from heat shock, carbon monoxide, 4221 combustion toxins) popularly blamed on the cannabis for decades?

      Please, researchers, get bizzy and find out, is it because the federal government that funds that operation is paid off by lucrative $igarette tax revenues and wants everyone to think the profitable overdose $igarette $moking format is the only “normal” (sorry) way to inhale herbal nutrients?

      Is it because Mississippi has a Republican government and Republicans receive twice as much re-election campaign money and lobbying (lawbuying) attention from the $igarette Industry as Democrats do? Questions, questions.

    3. TheOracle says:

      I say, I must agree with Galileo Galilei. Grassely and Feinstein, 2 of the least compassionate federal politicians regarding anything cannabis. DiFi is one of those prohibitionists in the Democratic Party who gives lip service of the compassionate kind, yet stalls by calling for more research. I have to express (moet ik effen kwijt) my disappointment at her–what seems to me–incompetence about not knowing about the mass surveillance the government was doing on and mass data they collected on everyday Americans, DEA included in using that information against the cannabis community. I suspect she knew more all along than she was letting on. So, Casablanca’s policeman, aghast to be told gambling is going on and feigning ignorance all the while that shit stuck to his shoes the whole time. DiFi, you stepped in it. Grassley, when I’m not bugged out by his crazy-looking eyes, he’s usually offering some red meat of some kind to the Obama haters/Clinton haters or uttering something else I disagree with.

      Dr. Volkow, NIDA,being at Johns Hopkins, is just outside the DC Beltway, but barely. Only the blatant civil disobedience and constant debunking of the prohibitionist arguments has worn away at her obstinance. How long will it take Ole Miss to produce many and varied strains with different high and low THC:CBD ratios? El Sohly developed anything similar to Charlotte’s Web? What all different kinds of strains has he got at Ole Miss that in THC:CBD potencies and rations are equivalents to those anyone can find at either a medical marijuana or adult recreational dispensary? It’s a freakin’ waste of money to have the government try to duplicate what’s already been done! Just let labs use whatever they want from the Colorado shops or other states’ shops or gardens and seed stock. WTF!

      And then there’s this article exposing the shameful link between JAMA and the American Medical Association and Big Pharma giving them perks and basically being in the pocket of Big Pharma and feeding at the Big Pharma trough.


      Everyone just keep ignoring the federal government’s prohibition, and state by state do the right thing.

      Legalize the sale of viable seeds so we don’t have to have the prohibitionists stall and stretch things out even in states where there are MMJ laws. Legalize the seeds so people don’t have to wait for actual brick and mortar shops actually are open to the public.

      Every legal sale of cannabis is money that did NOT go to the cartels, that did NOT go toward violence in, let’s say, Mexico. Mexican lives count, too.

      Which major U.S. cities will legalize Amsterdam-style, BIBOB test, and not enforce federal or state prohibition on adult retail? DeBlasio? Hey, de Blasio, strikingly like the white guy politician in the movie How High.

      Then there is this article on a study from Freiburg, Germany, that espouses that you can fail a drug test from handling bud. Is this true? I did other searches on the topic and the answer was no, because it didn’t get absorbed through the skin and make it into the bloodstream. So, can one test positive on from merely handling cannabis? What were the controls in this study to make sure the participants were negative before the study, and only rolled joints with the weed and didn’t pocket it any and leave and smoke? Anybody look into this study and pick it apart?


      Legalize cannabis now!

    4. Daniella says:

      Thank you for keeping us informed Danielle!

    5. Don E. says:

      It is fascinating to observe this slow but steady enlightenment in officialdom. The veil is rising on the absurdity of barriers and restrictions uniquely placed on this beneficial plant.

      The legislative process is at long last addressing the fundamental stupidities wrapped up in marijuana prohibition that many of us have been acutely aware of and shouting at them for decades.

    6. Julian says:

      I wonder what it ‘s like for all those people just figuring out that NIDA has an exclusive contractor to produce limited, poor quality marijuana from the University of Mississipi for the last four decades, prohibiting research and treatment internationally… and that they have been using our tax dollars to deny the medical efficacy of marijuana as mandated by the Controlled Substances Act all these years too?

      Is it like, you’re eating a bowl of cereal, get to the paragraph about the government’s farm at Ol’ Miss and just spit milk and hemp-flax granola everywhere? Or are you tokin on a number and get to the part about NIDA and start choking off your chair?

      We like to think everyone is up to speed on marijuana policy but I always wonder what it’s like for the newbie…

    7. Miles says:

      “Senator Grassley (R-IA), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) will also take action”

      Sadly, considering their past track record, I expect them to continue blocking research and maintaining their prohibitionist stance regarding marijuana…

      It would brighten my day considerably if they were to finally admit they have been wrong for many years and now see the light. Feinstein in particular really pisses me off considering she is a Democrat. As for Grassley, well, as a Republican his views come as no surprise…

    8. Mark I. says:

      Government administrators claim “just doing our job” when questioned about the efficacy of the drug war. Didn’t germans make the same claim at the end of the second world war? Didn’t all the holocaust collaborators make the same claim to their attocities? Does the world need to make the same responses to criminal intrusions into personal space and healthcare decisions? How many will a frustrated public need to hang before they get the picture?

    9. Jordan says:

      Glad to see this issue is coming to light, even if we haven’t made as much progress as I’d hope. Thanks for sharing, and keep us updated!

    10. Todd says:

      The workings of the human mind cannot fit into a small mechanical box. However, our government’s view of modern society is exactly that people can be defined as mechanical legs and arms walking around, each guided by a delicate mechanical computer perched on its shoulders and that the brain is subject to implicit search and mechanical health laws.