Federal grant recipients broke the law while spending an estimated $246 million in taxpayer dollars for cannabis and e-cigarette animal experiments, a new report by a group opposing publicly-funded animal testing finds.
White Coat Waste Project’s report, published Wednesday, highlights 10 instances of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funneling money to researchers experimenting with getting animals high on THC or making them consume nicotine.
“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,” Devin Murphy, a spokesperson for White Coat Waste Project, said in a statement to The Daily Wire.
One experiment, which began at Oregon Health and Science University in 2012, involved giving monkeys cannabis edibles to assess the outcome of THC on reproductive health. The grant recipients received roughly $169 million in taxpayer dollars marked for this experiment.
All of the experiments are in violation of The Stevens Amendment, a provision that requires federal grant recipients from the Department of Health and Human Services to disclose certain details, White Coat Waste Project says. It is unclear how much of the $246 million allocated for the experiments was used, since, as the group explains, the law requiring specific disclosure has not been followed. Grant recipients are supposed to report how much of an experiment’s costs are taxpayer dollars and the amount of non-government source money was used.
The NIH did not respond to a request for comment.
In another experiment at Indiana University, taxpayers footed an estimated bill of $1.5 million for pregnant mice to be injected with marijuana byproducts. At the University of California, San Diego, an estimated $24 million went toward getting lobsters high on marijuana before 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.
Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI), who sits on the budget committee, told The Daily Wire that the report’s contents indicate clear government waste. The congressman alluded to how it reminds him of a book about Dr. Anthony Fauci — by Robert F. Kennedy — highlighting taxpayer-funded research that has often been viewed as unnecessary or destructive.
“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.”
White Coat Waste Project is recommending an audit on NIH animal drug experiment spending and a mandate for NIH to monitor its grantees for compliance with The Stevens Amendment. The group is also demanding Congress pass the Cost Openness and Spending Transparency Act — which would make the amendment cover all executive branch agencies and allow taxpayer dollars to be withheld from parties in violation.
The press office for Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), who introduced the act in the Senate, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC), the House sponsor, told The Daily Wire the act would “simply demand transparency” and that the congressman thinks he’ll have better luck advancing the bill with Republicans 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.”