Iowans for Medical Marijuana
August 9, 1996
Des Moines, IA 50309
Dear Senator Harkin,
As the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that supplies funding to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), I would like to share my concerns with you about AIDS wasting syndrome studies.
Recently, Dr. Donald Abrams, of the University of California, San Francisco, sought permission to conduct a privately financed pilot study comparing three potencies of inhaled marijuana (high, medium, and low) with oral delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (dronabinol) capsules. Dr. Abrams' study was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (Investigational New Drug No. 43,542), the University of California, San Francisco, institutional review board, the California Research Advisory Panel, and the scientific advisory committee of the San Francisco Community Consortium.
The Drug Enforcement Administration first refused to allow Dr. Abrams to import marijuana from The Netherlands, and then the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which controls the domestic supply of marijuana for clinical research, rejected Dr. Abrams' request in April 1995.
This is very wrong. Other researchers will now be discouraged from attempting to secure approval for further research. The application processes are long and complicated.
Furthermore, the denial by NIDA has prompted researchers and patients to appeal to the California voters through the initiative process. Petitioners this year gathered approximately twice the number of needed signatures to get a medical marijuana initiative on the ballot in November.
The California medical marijuana initiative will allow patients to grow their own marijuana. Polls indicate the initiative will pass. The intitiative solves the problem for state law enforcement agencies, but does not address federal scheduling of marijuana. Possession of marijuana would still remain a federal crime, although most likely unenforced.
I would appreciate any pressure you can apply on NIDA to simplify its requirements for granting approval for supplying marijuana for legitimate research. This would help to eliminate the necessity of patients trying to find marijuana on their own without legal sanction from the federal government. Thank you very much.
Carl E. Olsen