According to a new analysis by a group opposed to publicly-funded animal research, federal grant winners breached the law by investing an approximate $246 million in taxpayer cash on cannabis and e-cigarette animal tests. Taxpayers paid an approximate $1.5 million for pregnant mice to be treated with marijuana metabolites in the research.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) routed money to scientists testing with getting animals high on THC or forcing them to ingest nicotine, according to a report (read below) released Wednesday by the White Coat Waste Project.
“The blunt truth is that tens of millions of tax dollars are going up in smoke for half-baked marijuana and vaping experiments on animals and NIH-funded white coats are breaking federal law by not disclosing how much they’re wasting to get animals wasted,” said Devin Murphy, a spokesperson for White Coat Waste Project, in a statement to The Daily Wire.
Giving monkeys cannabis edibles to test the effects of THC on reproductive health was one experiment that began in 2012 at Oregon Health and Science University. The winners of the grants got around $169 million in public funds designated for this project.
According to White Coat Waste Project, all of the experiments are in breach of The Stevens Amendment, which requires federal grant recipients from the Department of Health and Human Services to divulge certain information. Because, as the group notes, the regulation requiring detailed disclosure was not followed, it is unknown how much of the $246 million allotted for the trials was used. Grant winners are required to indicate how much of an experiment’s cost comes from taxpayer funds and how much comes from non-government sources.
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Taxpayers paid an approximate $1.5 million for pregnant mice to be treated with marijuana metabolites in another study at Indiana University. An estimated $24 million was spent at the University of California, San Diego, to get lobsters high on marijuana prior to actually killing them.
“The scientists subsequently measured levels of THC in tissue samples from some of the lobsters, including gills, brain, heart, liver, tail and claw. Claw samples where [sic] boiled for 10 minutes to determine if THC levels were reduced or eliminated by cooking,” a university press release for the study from last year said.
The report’s contents, according to Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI), who serves on the budget committee, suggest apparent government waste. The congressman compared it to Robert F. Kennedy’s book about Dr. Anthony Fauci, which highlighted taxpayer-funded study that has frequently been regarded as unnecessary or harmful.
“It sounds like a bunch of researchers were sitting around thinking of the most absurd use of money they could come up with and seeing if the government would fund it,” Grothman said. “And they found out they would.”
The White Coat Waste Project proposes an audit of NIH animal drug experiment expenditure as well as a requirement that NIH monitor grantees for compliance with The Stevens Amendment. The group also wants Congress to enact the Cost Openness and Spending Transparency Act, which would expand the amendment to include all executive branch agencies and allow taxpayer funds to be removed from those who break it.
Sen. Joni Ernst’s (R-IA), who proposed the bill in the Senate, did not respond to a request for comment right away. A representative for House sponsor Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) told the media that the bill would “simply demand transparency” and that the congressman believes he will have a greater chance of getting it passed now that Republicans are in power.
“Is that honestly asking too much?” the spokesperson said. “This legislation should have sailed through Congress long ago. However, Rep. Norman understands efforts like this are unlikely to advance as long as Democrats hold the majority. Fortunately, with a ‘red wave’ on the horizon, he looks forward to re-filing this legislation early in the next term of Congress.”
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