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Welcome to a Medical Cannabis Resource Center (MERCY), 2009 News Story. 

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HHS Solicits Proposals for Cannabis Cultivation
Univ. of Mississippi Has 40-year Monopoly

Just seven months after the DEA again rejected a judge's recommendation that a university be granted a license to grow research cannabis, a federal "Request for Proposals" has been issued for the production and distribution of cannabis. The RFP issued by the federal Department of Health and Human Services is seeking applicants who can not only "grow, harvest, analyze, store and distribute" cannabis but also "extract cannabis to obtain purified phytocannabinoids." The RFP is similar to solicitations issued every five years by HHS.

For more than 40 years, the University of Mississippi has had an exclusive contract with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to produce cannabis. The pre-rolled cannabis cigarettes they produce are used by both American researchers and the four remaining patients who receive free federal cannabis as part of an Investigational New Drug program started in 1978 and closed to new participants in 1991. Many of those researchers and patients have been critical of the quality of the cannabis produced at Ole Miss, and activists are concerned that other proposals will not get a fair hearing.

"The government has a stranglehold on cannabis research in this country," said Caren Woodson, ASA’s Government Affairs Director. "The bidding process is not as competitive as they would have us believe. They even rejected an alternative proposal their own judge recommended." The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has repeatedly denied the application of a University of Massachusetts at Amherst researcher, Lyle Craker, to provide cannabis for federally approved research studies. Professor Craker and others have pursued a years-long appeals process.

In 2007, the DEA's own administrative law judge ruling that the UMass-Amherst application should be granted because expanded medical marijuana research was "in the public interest." The DEA judge also concluded that the quantity and quality of cannabis supplied by Ole Miss was inadequate.


OLE MISS HAS MONOPOLY ON MARIJUANA RESEARCH

Call the President and Attorney General and Complain! When the federal Department of Health and Human Services recently issued a request for proposals, seeking competitive applications for the production, analysis and distribution of "marijuana cigarettes," the request might have seemed a bit unusual to those unfamiliar with Washington's dance around cannabis research. The federal government, after all, is not widely known to support marijuana cultivation. But those in the know just shrugged. The department has issued similar requests every few years to select a contractor to conduct government-approved marijuana research, and with depressing regularity it has then awarded an exclusive contract to the University of Mississippi. For 40 years now, Washington has sought such "competitive applications" and Mississippi "wins" every time. This rigged contest has successfully thwarted meaningful academic inquiry into marijuana's medicinal value, without which the debate over its efficacy is bound to endure. Other studies -- not conducted by the University of Mississippi -- have suggested that marijuana has therapeutic value. But because the United States has discouraged such research and made it legally difficult to undertake, these studies have been limited in scope. What's missing is the broad research analyzing the cultivation and properties of different strains and their effects on a variety of illnesses. For example, a strain of cannabis that is most effective with glaucoma may not be the same strain best suited to cancer patients. Even if the university were running a perfect program, one institution cannot fulfill the country's research needs. In February 2007, when Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner recommended that the Drug Enforcement Administration grant a license to cultivate marijuana for research purposes to a botanist at the University of Massachusetts, she said she had concluded that the supply of marijuana from the University of Mississippi program was of insufficient quality and quantity for research purposes. The deadline for this latest round of applications is Oct. 9. The government should take the opportunity to break the University of Mississippi's monopoly and choose a different institution. That step alone would be a sign that the Obama administration will prioritize science over politics. Merely shifting the contract from one institution to another, however, won't change the status quo.

Source: Monterey County Herald (CA)
Pubdate: Sat, 5 Sep 2009
Newshawk: http://www.elvymusikka.com/
Bookmark: http://mapinc.org/topic/University+of+Mississippi
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/people/Lyle+Craker

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