Federal office helps scientists get controlled substances, but the price is paperwork and secrecy
WASHINGTON - Pharmacologist Louis Harris keeps his drugs in a massive safe bolted securely to the floor of his lab at Virginia Commonwealth University. Barbara Slifer, a behavioral pharmacologist at the University of New Orleans, refuses to tell her lab partners where she's stashed the chemicals for their next experiment. They and thousands of their colleagues around the country can wait weeks and sometimes months to get essential supplies.

All of these scientists, who are trying to better understand how drugs behave chemically in the brain and affect people's behavior, are familiar with the quirks of working with illicit substances such as heroin, cocaine, and LSD. Once a small community, their ranks are growing rapidly in step with the nation's increased attention to combating the problem of drug abuse in United States society. "We're trying to...

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