Uncle Sam's Expanded Marijuana Menu

Just as the fear of privatization spurred Pennsylvania's state-run liquor monopoly to act more like a profit-oriented business, talk of allowing competition with Uncle Sam's marijuana monopoly seems to have encouraged a more customer-oriented attitude at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is currently the country's only legal source of cannabis for research. NIDA's recently revised online menu of marijuana available to qualifying researchers suggests the agency is aiming to please in new ways. "NIDA appears to finally be loosening longtime restrictions on cannabis research," says Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, "due to political pressure bubbling up from the states."


For years NIDA's marijuana monopoly, which is different from the approach the federal government takes with every other Schedule I drug, has been cited as a major barrier to studies of the plant's medical utility. The monopoly forces scientists who...

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