Arizona: Marijuana Research Allowed At Universities... If Feds Approve
By Steve Elliott
Without comment, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on Tuesday signed into law a bill to allow possession of marijuana on college and university campuses for research. The measure, which takes effect later this year, was made necessary by a bill which Brewer signed last year, officially disallowing pot on campuses (yeah, good luck enforcing that one).
The bill Brewer signed on Tuesday, while leaving intact the ban on marijuana on college campuses, creates an exception for research approved by the FDA, the DEA or the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
And there's the bottleneck. Don't hold your breath, because the DEA never approves research requests, and the NIDA will only approve research designed from the outset to prove the bad effects of marijuana; no medical marijuana research is funded through that notoriously anti-pot agency.
Brewer's spokesman, Matthew Benson, claimed the governor never intended to interfere with legitimate research when she signed the earlier bill, reports Howard Fischer at Capitol Media Services.
When Arizona voters approved a medical marijuana law in 2010, it banned possession of cannabis in public schools, but no such restriction was included for the use of medical marijuana on college and university campuses.
Last year, at the request of the Board of Regents, lawmakers approved the college campus ban for medical marijuana.
Proponents of the campus ban claimed that since marijuana remains illegal for any purpose under federal law, the failure of campuses to have a pot-free policy endangered federal aid and scholarships for students.
The new law will help Sue Sisley, a University of Arizona physician whose planned research project was blocked by the campus marijuana ban last year. She said it was a victory for academic research.
"It proves that science is not going to be trumped by politics," Sisley said, adding that it assures that the university system will remain "a sanctuary for research that might be considered controversial."
(Graphic: All Hat No Cattle)