City Journal: The Gonz Show: Dr. Lyle Craker

Buoyed by a win in court, the botany prof gives John Gonzalez the straight dope on his plans to grow marijuana in a UMass lab.

A judge recently ruled that you should be allowed to grow marijuana for research purposes. But your fight with the feds isn’t over, is it?
No, not by any stretch. [The ruling] is subject to the decision of the director of the Drug Enforcement Administration. The director could reject or accept it. I have no idea what will happen.

Do you think this process has been hindered by the pro-legalization groups that support your efforts?
I don’t sense that at all. I think we’ve been aboveboard on this. We have a lot of anecdotal evidence that the plant material will help people, as we have with other plants. The scientific community starts with anecdotal evidence and then tests it. We live in an age of science. Let’s subject marijuana to rigorous scientific tests and see if it is beneficial medicinally. That’s my concept. Let’s find out. If it doesn’t have medicinal benefit, then, okay, now we know. But if it does, let’s get it to the people who would benefit.

I think I know what the problem is—your name. You need a catchy nickname to jump-start things and rally popular support. Do people have any pet names for you?

Um, okay, but think about what Kevorkian did for euthanasia. Once people started calling him Dr. Death, he got huge. That could be you. You could be Dr. Weed. Or Dr. Herb. Whichever. You pick.
You think I need one? Nah, not my thing. We’re not making a game out of this. This is serious.

Have you gotten calls from random stoners asking you to hook them up?
No, but I have received e-mails from people who want to know why they have to buy it off the street for their wife or husband who has cancer. I don’t know how to respond to that.

Okay, last question. No one but my mom reads my stuff, so, seriously, between you, me, and her, do you smoke?
No. I never have. That’s not my style. I don’t ever lose control. No drinking. No smoking. No drugs. That’s not me.