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Taking "Pot" Shots

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Reviewed By Attorney Elisabeth Pasqualini, Criminal Law Division Leader

UMass professor drops bid to grow medical pot

(AP) - Mar 4, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) - A University of Massachusetts-Amherst professor says he's dropping his nearly decade-long fight to persuade the government to let him grow marijuana in bulk for medical research.

Horticulturist Lyle Craker wanted to cultivate marijuana to boost research into the plant's potential medicinal benefits. But he's been rebuffed - even as more than a dozen states have legalized medical marijuana.

Craker, 70, said he saw no end in sight to the legal wrangling, given the likelihood of an appeals process that could run several years, or even decades. He was frustrated, too, that he never got a hoped-for boost from the Obama administration.

"I'm disappointed in our system," he said. "But I'm not disappointed at what we did. I think our efforts have brought the problem to the public eye more. ... This is just the first battle in a war."

Craker, who said he has never smoked marijuana, launched his challenge to the government's monopoly on growing and distributing research marijuana in 2001. A lab at the University of Mississippi is the government's only marijuana-growing facility.

Craker contends that the government-grown pot lacks the potency medical researchers need for breakthroughs. He said there isn't enough of the drug freely available for scientists across the country.

"I'm disappointed mostly because of all the patients who could potentially benefit," he said.

The Drug Enforcement Administration has blocked Craker and defended the government's marijuana, saying its Mississippi facility provides the necessary quality and quantity for legitimate researchers. The DEA has said permitting other marijuana growers would lead to greater illegal use of the drug.

It's important to note that the growing of marijuana is not legal under the Federal Law and PA State Law.  Anyone who is growing marijuana for any purpose can be charged with a felony.  However, there are many sentencing alternatives available for first time offenders.  Contact Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC at www.shafferengle.com or toll free at 1-866-765-0706; you may contact Attorney Pasqualini directly at Elisabeth@shafferengle.com

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