Although support for medical marijuana is growing, insurers and healthcare plans continue to deny coverage for this treatment. This won’t change until marijuana is declassified as a Schedule I controlled substance under federal drug laws, which probably won’t happen anytime soon.
Medical marijuana is now legal in 21 jurisdictions. Two states, Washington and Colorado, permit the recreational use of marijuana. Yet the distribution, sale, or possession of marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
Despite the questionable rationale behind the classification, changing it won’t be easy. In 1994, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) established a five-part test for determining whether a drug has a “currently accepted medical use.” The test’s most rigorous element is a requirement that there are “adequate and well controlled studies” proving the drug’s efficacy. The DEA has construed “adequate and well controlled studies” to mean clinical trials similar to what the FDA requires for new drug applications.