Obama, Don't Let Pot Research Go Up In Smoke
Feb. 3, 2009 — Try as they might, researchers in the United States have a hard time obtaining permits to grow marijuana. Take University of Massachusetts professor Lyle Craker, for instance. He did win a recommendation from an "administrative" (In other words, "powerless") law judge, but the heartless folks at the DEA were deaf to Craker's pleas.
Surprisingly, the DEA actually does approve of one marijuana-growing operation. Mahmoud El-Sohly has the distinction of running the only company in the world that is licensed to grow marijuana by the DEA and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, El-Sohly Laboratories Inc., of Oxford, Miss., and he swears that he doesn't smoke it.
Although researchers like Craker can get their weed from El-Sohly, some complain that the process takes too long and involves too much red tape. Craker said that he might appeal to the Obama administration. Obama, could you put that whole economy and war on terror thing aside and fulfill one man's quest to grow his own weed? Just kidding, of course. Officially at least, Obama doesn't favor legalizing marijuana. Too bad, huh?
El-Sohly has cultivated almost 100 varieties, and, no, you can't have any unless you obtain the proper permits. That goes for you, too, Michael Phelps. (Phelps, who won a record eight gold medals at last year's Beijing Olympics, was recently caught smoking a marijuana pipe at a party in South Carolina. Blame the South.)
Actually, here in Massachusetts, it is no longer a criminal offense to have an ounce or less of pot, thanks to a ballot initiative that passed last November. The cops can fine you $100, which no doubt they will use to line their own pockets, but you won't have to go to jail. Perhaps that's why Craker's goal of growing the fancy stuff in the Bay State isn't that far-fetched.
Personally, I think that people should object to marijuana smoke. There is a lot of debate over marijuana versus cigarette smoke, but I think it's clear to anyone who has ever smoked marijuana for the first time and exploded in a paroxysm of coughing, that smoking is not good for you, not that I would know anything about that, but the government should consider allowing it in baked goods and in mostly smokeless inhalers.
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