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State Department Says NIDA Monopoly On Research Marijuana Is Unnecessary

national institute on drug abuse nida

(image via Wikipedia)

The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement at the State Department has gone on record stating that the United States could issue multiple licenses for the cultivation of cannabis for medical and scientific purposes without violating the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs treaty. The statement came in response to a direct request from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) regarding whether issuing multiple licenses to grow medical marijuana was a violation of the Single Convention. The State Department’s interpretation is at odds with that of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) which has always maintained that the treaty only allows a single license, which is granted to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). This has created what is referred to as the “NIDA monopoly on cannabis,” which has stalled medical cannabis research for years.

Senator Gillibrand reacted to the State Department’s position, “For years, the DEA has cited this international treaty as the reason for limiting medical research. Now that the State Department has confirmed this treaty should not be a barrier to expanding research, the DEA should issue new licenses to supply medical researchers and stop letting antiquated ideology stand in the way of modern medical science.”

Researchers have long complained that the University of Mississippi has been unable to produce sufficient quality cannabis to conduct comprehensive research. For instance, a research team, led by Dr. Sue Sisley, required four specific cannabinoid profiles for a PTSD study which she requested on August 18, 2014. On March 24, 2015, NIDA informed the research team that they could not provide the requested strains, and they would have to wait for them to create the standardized strains.

“Marijuana is the only schedule I drug that requires a single government enforced monopoly for access to study it,” said Dr. Sue Sisley. “This monopoly has proven over and over again that they are incompetent and incapable of providing the various strains that are requested by scientists in a timely manner.” In 2015, NIDA itself went on record before Congress recommending the monopoly be discontinued.

In its response, the State Department points out several instances in which the treaty uses plural forms of terms such as “areas,” “plots,” and “cultivators,” which indicates that more than one cultivator could be licensed. While the State Department notes that a monopoly complies with the treaty, it makes it clear that a monopoly is by no means a requirement.

Several other countries have issued multiple licenses to grow cannabis for medical and scientific purposes with no subsequent UN sanctions. Canada and Holland have issued multiple licenses for not only research studies but for medicine made available to patients through their medical cannabis programs. The DEA could potentially license each state with a medical cannabis program, which would bring the state programs into complete compliance with the UN treaty.

“With this news, President Obama should direct the DEA to immediately begin the process of issuing additional licenses,” said Mike Liszewski, Director of Government Affairs for Americans for Safe Access. “Breaking up the DEA-mandated NIDA monopoly would benefit researchers and patients alike, and would not offend treaty obligations.”

The conflict between DEA and the State Department’s interpretation of the treaty makes it appear that the DEA has been blocking research, based on a misunderstanding of international law. The State Department weighing in may force the DEA to finally grant additional licenses to producers for medical cannabis research, something researchers and advocates have been asking the DEA to do for decades.

Further Information:

Answers to Senator Gillibrand’s questions to DEA
Ending DEA NIDA Monopoly
Americans for Safe  Access Policy Agenda


Source – Americans for Safe Access (ASA) - With over 100,000 active members in all 50 states, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. ASA works to overcome political and legal barriers by creating policies that improve access to medical cannabis for patients and researchers through legislation, education, litigation, grassroots actions, advocacy and services for patients and caregivers.


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Johnny Green


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  3. They store the shit in fiber drums! Its all ground up fine like dust. I produced better weed when I was 15. Lol

  4. Thank you Dr. Sisley for pursuing your research. Even if does not occur in Az.

  5. Ted Mishler on

    there should be some way we as people of this earth could take part in it without some war heads implying that we all should be looked at as criminal

    urinalysis is discrimination
    war is high treason if it is against it’s own people according to wikipedia
    has people lost there minds or what

    i see no need to war or have licenses in our Constitution

  6. Matt South on

    Ole Miss and NIDA can GTFO. Defund this failed program! The product grown at Ole Miss has been known to be absolute schwag! They mill the whole plant! These clowns don’t grow the “high quality” cannabis that most would assume. They can’t even admit the endless cannabinoid profiles needed for a proper test on conditions such as PTSD. They’re only prepared to provide the low quality limited strains they’ve been growing for decades.


  7. I wonder if the University of Mississippi will be seen as a kind of de facto “seed bank” in years to come?
    As commercial growers have essentially hybridized landrace sativas out of existence, U of M might be the only place left that still has some growing…
    How cool would it be to find that they still have some original Acapulco or Oaxacan growing!

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