Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Obama To Overturn Major Bush-Era Marijuana Ruling

By Katie Sanders - The White House wants to review Bush's order to shut down a UMass scientist's pot-growing operation. The research, which a DEA judge ruled to allow more than two years ago, would build the medical case for marijuana.

Days before President Bush left office in January, his administration fired a parting shot at Professor Lyle Craker's eight-year quest to cultivate marijuana for medical research by abruptly denying him a federal license despite a nearly two-year old Drug Enforcement Administration law judge's recommendation that he receive one.

But the new administration led by President Obama, who has publicly backed the use of marijuana for medical purposes to stave off pain, might reverse the decision and keep Craker's license application from going up in smoke.

A source familiar with the case said the White House will likely demand that the decision be reviewed.

"Basically they want to do an autopsy of what occurred and have it go through a proper review," the source said.

Craker, who is based at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, is cautiously optimistic Obama will do to the denial of the marijuana license what he has done to other Bush administration decisions on such hot-button cultural issues as embryonic stem-cell research and the abortion "gag rule" affecting overseas family planning groups.

"Obama has indicated that he's for science over politics," Craker said in an interview. "And I certainly feel the situation we have currently is politics over science."

Just last week, Obama called for the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to "develop a strategy for restoring scientific integrity to government decision making."

"The public must be able to trust the science and scientific process informing public policy decisions," Obama wrote. "Public officials should not suppress or alter scientific or technological findings and conclusions."

On the issue of medicinal marijuana, Obama said at a November 2007 campaign stop in Iowa that he was open to allowing its use if it is what science and physicians suggest would be the best way to ease suffering.

"There's no difference between that and morphine when it comes to just giving people relief to pain," Obama said then.

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