More than half the states–28, to be exact–including Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota as of the Nov. 8 election, and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for certain medical conditions.
And yet, the Drug Enforcement Administration still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, defined by the 1970 Controlled Substances Act as a drug that has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use (emphasis is mine) in the United States. Other Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD and ecstasy.
Only the Food and Drug Administration can determine whether marijuana has an accepted medical use, according to the DEA, and so far, it hasn’t. Because marijuana is a Schedule I drug, doctors can only “recommend” it to patients, not write prescriptions for it that they can fill at a drugstore.
But Congress has the authority to reclassify controlled substances, and the president can ask his attorney general, who oversees the DEA, or his Health and Human Services secretary, who oversees the FDA, to initiate rulemaking to reclassify them, Brookings Institution senior fellow John Hudak told me.