Medicinal Marijuana and Federal Law

With the results of the 2016 election, use of medical marijuana is now approved in 28 states, plus Washington, D.C., but the plant itself is not approved as medicine by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  It still remains federally illegal. Under the Controlled Substances Act, the federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug – which is a category reserved for the most dangerous drugs and those that don’t show any medical benefit.

This classification makes it difficult for researchers to study, because drugs in this category  are very tightly regulated. In 2011, two state governors petitioned federal agencies to reclassify marijuana to a less restrictive category– one that acknowledges its medical benefits. In August of 2016, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reconfirmed marijuana’s listing as a Schedule I drug, but are loosening some of the barriers for researchers wanting to study it.

So what does the science say? Are there actually any medical benefits to marijuana?  Turns out, the answer is a bit more complicated than you may think. 

Based on the science, how do you think the government should handle medical marijuana?


More Resources

REPORT: FDA Regulation of Marijuana: Past Actions, Future Plans (FDA.gov)

REPORT: Blurred Boundaries: The Therapeutics and Politics of Medical Marijuana (Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Mayo Clinic)


ABOVE THE NOISE, a new YouTube series from KQED, follows young journalists as they investigate real world issues that impact young people’s lives. These short videos prompt critical thinking with middle and high school students to spark civic engagement. Join hosts Myles Bess and Shirin Ghaffary for new episodes published every Wednesday on YouTube.

How Should the Government Handle Medical Marijuana? 24 August,2017Lauren Farrar

Author

Lauren Farrar

Lauren has a background in biology, education, and filmmaking. She has had the privilege to work on a diverse array of educational endeavors and is currently a producer for KQED Learning's YouTube series Above the Noise. Lauren's career has taken her to the deepest parts of the ocean to film deep sea hydrothermal vents for classroom webcasts, into the pool to film synchronized swimmers to teach about the pH scale, and on roller coasters to create a video about activation energy. And, she’s done it all for the sake of education. Lauren loves communicating science! Follow her on twitter @LFarrarAtWork

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor