Monday, August 10, 2009
US Government Monopoly on Marijuana Cultivation in Mississippi!
There's a monopoly on marijuana growing and research in America
Dave Stancliff/For the Times-Standard
Posted: 08/09/2009 01:28:32 AM PDT
I'd like you to meet Dr. Mahmoud ElSohly, the only person in the United
States who can grow tons of marijuana and not worry the Feds will bust
If your company wants to do research on marijuana, he's the guy to see.
Dr. ElSohly's lab at the University of Mississippi has an exclusive
contract with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which
supplies the pot to approved researchers who study its ill effects.
Despite the federal government's efforts to suppress marijuana's
positive aspects for the last 72 years, researchers everywhere watch
with interest as Big Pharma gets involved with the controversial herb
and its therapeutic qualities.
And why not? There's a lot of money involved. Without fanfare, three
legal drugs made with THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in
cannabis, are on the market. You may have heard of Marinol, a synthetic
THC in capsules that has been around since 1986. A Belgian firm, Solvay
Pharmaceuticals, manufacturers Marinol and some generic versions are
also coming out. The second legal use of a pot pharmaceutical is
Cesamet, produced by Valeant Pharmaceuticals, a multi-national company
with corporate headquarters in Aliso Viejo, Calif. Cesamet is used to
treat chemotherapy nausea. Out since 2006, it contains nabilone, a
synthetic analog of THC.
Our neighbor Canada legalized Sativex, a whole-cannabis- extract spray
produced by the British firm GW Pharmaceuticals. It is absorbed by the
mucous membranes under the tongue and inside the cheek. It's marketed as
a pain reliever and researchers in the U.S. are looking at its
applications for cancer pain.
I think companies worldwide are beginning to see the possibilities of
pot because of the growing acceptance of medical marijuana in America.
Legalization is now openly considered by politicians in California.
National polls show a growing acceptance of marijuana use, both for
medicine and recreation.
Five of the world's biggest pharmaceutical companies are openly looking
into pot's therapeutic possibilities. That probably means they are all
looking at it and some are more secretive than others.
"That is all proprietary information, " said Paul Armentano of
the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). He
also said the public will not be made aware of all the cannabinoid- based
drug research until it's close to market-ready.
According to Dr. George Kunos, scientific director of the National
Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at the National Institute of
Health, there are about 18 cannabinoid- related compounds under active
Why doesn't Big Pharma in America take advantage of what some
pharmaceutical- marketing newsletters suggest is the next big blockbuster
for the industry? One reason is having to overcome government
restrictions. Another is the need for exclusive ownership.
Johnson & Johnson has publicly stated that they are not researching
cannabinoid drugs and a company spokesman said it was "not aware of
any" other companies doing so. Only Sativex is close to U.S.
availability, and has been researched here for years.
That brings us back to Dr. ElSohly, who has had an exclusive contract
with NIDA for nearly 40 years. His contract calls for studies that aim
to show the bad effects of marijuana abuse. So you know the mind-set
there. Several well-known researchers who want to research medical
marijuana have been denied.
So what is our top marijuana-dealer, Dr. ElSohly, doing with his U.S.
government monopoly on cannabis research? Funny you should ask. He's
working with Mallinckrodt, a British company with offices throughout the
United States, to develop a plant-extract form of Marinol.
This has brought him under fire by Americans for Safe Access who charge
him with "benefiting from such a monopoly by financially profiting
from the research and sale of cannabis-based pharmaceuticals. "
Yes, the good doctor has been busy and he's also patented a suppository
containing THC hemisuccinate, which breaks down into THC when absorbed
by the body. Frankly, I don't see this as a popular delivery system.
Just a hunch.
The good news is that numerous countries are doing studies to uncover
the many exciting possibilities for cannabis and the cannabinoids. For
example, researchers at Complutense University in Madrid found that THC
causes brain-cancer cells to destroy themselves.
As It Stands, what can be done about this monopoly that has hindered
marijuana research in our country for so long?
Dave Stancliff is a columnist for The Times-Standard. He is a former
newspaper editor and publisher. Comments can be sent to
richstan1@suddenlin k.net or www.davesblogcentra l.com.
http://www.times- standard. com/othervoices/ ci_13025982