Small bag of marijuana

Marijuana has become increasingly legalized by states for medical as well as recreational use in recent years. This November, voters in a number of states around the country, including California and Massachusetts, could decide to further expand the legal recreational use of the drug. However, it's going to continue to remain illegal under federal law, at least for the foreseeable future.

DEA: Marijuana Has No "Currently Accepted Medical Use"

This month, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced that after another evaluation by its Health and Human Services agency, it will continue to categorize marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule 1 substance. Schedule 1 drugs are illegal to use for any purpose, even medicinal.

The DEA reiterated previous determinations that it's made about marijuana, including the assertion that it has no recognized medical use. Despite the fact that patients have reported that the drug has helped with a host of medical conditions, the evaluation concluded that it has no "currently accepted medical use." The HHS report stated that there are "no adequate safety studies" and "no adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy."

"High Potential" for Abuse, but Not Necessarily a Gateway Drug

The report also noted, as has been asserted in the past, that there is a "high potential" for abuse and dependence on the drug. However, it did dispute the claim by some that it is a "gateway drug," saying that it found "little evidence" that using marijuana leads to dependence on other drugs.

Although federal law overrides individual state laws that allow marijuana possession and use, the Justice Department hasn't made it a priority to take legal action against these states or their residents. Individual state laws regulate its sale and use.

Know the Applicable State Laws

It's essential to know the state laws regarding marijuana in whatever state you're living, traveling or visiting. Even in states where it's fully legal, a person can face arrest for driving while under the influence, providing it to a minor, possessing more than a designated amount, using it in certain areas or any number of other actions.

Any drug conviction, even one involving marijuana, can impact a person's future. Therefore, it's important to avoid breaking the law and to seek legal guidance if you or a loved one are facing a marijuana-related charge.