Pharma's pot push
Big Pharma's marijuana moves highlight DEA double-standard
Published: March 2, 2011
The United Kingdom's GW Pharmaceuticals would also no doubt welcome the DEA's call for rescheduling. GW Pharma is the manufacturer of Sativex — an oral spray containing plant-derived extracts of the cannabinoids THC and CBD (cannabidiol). The spray is presently available in Canada and the United Kingdom, but could not be legally marketed in the United States, even with FDA approval, until its natural cannabinoid compounds are reclassified under federal law.
Ironically, the federal government itself also stands to benefit financially from rescheduling. After all, under the U.S. government's existing monopoly on marijuana production — a monopoly that was upheld in 2009 when the DEA rejected its own administrative law judge's decision in Craker — no domestic-based pharmaceutical company wishing to develop products derived from organic THC could legally acquire the necessary extracts without first contracting to purchase those compounds from the federal government's sole pot farm, located at the University of Mississippi at Oxford.
While the DEA's forthcoming regulatory change promises to stimulate the advent of legally available, natural THC therapeutic products — and will also likely encourage the development of less expensive yet similarly synthetic alternatives to Marinol — the change will offer no legal relief for those hundreds of thousands of Americans who believe that therapeutic relief is best obtained by use of the whole plant itself. Rather the DEA appears content to try to walk a political and semantic tightrope that alleges: "pot is bad," but "pot-derived pharmaceuticals are good."
It's a position that would appear to be scientifically untenable, and one that will do little to bridge the existing gap between the public's demand for a rational medical marijuana policy and the federal government's desire to maintain a criminal prohibition that lacks any rational basis whatsoever.
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