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FDA commissioner predicts imminent new federal marijuana policy

November 20, 2018

The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it’s an “inevitability” that the federal government will need to reconsider its marijuana policies as more states legalize the plant for medicinal and recreational purposes.

Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the FDA under President Trump, made the comment during a recent television interview conducted on the heels of voters in three states legalizing marijuana during the Nov. 6 midterm elections.

Mr. Gottlieb also questioned marijuana’s medical value during the interview, however, making it unclear precisely what type of federal policy he expected.

“All the people who are making claims around botanical marijuanamedical claims around it and around its purported benefitsthose haven’t been demonstrated,” Mr. Gottlieb told CNBC host Joe Kernen.

“I think there’s probably going to be a policy reckoning around this at some point in the future,” Mr. Gottlieb added moments later. “Obviously it’s happening at the state level, and I think there’s an inevitability that it’s going to happen at the federal level at some point soon.”

Reached for comment, a spokesperson for the FDA said they had no additional information to share concerning Mr. Gottlieb’s remarks.

A physician and the FDA’s former deputy commissioner for medical and scientific affairs, Mr. Gottlieb made the comments during an appearance on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” His remarks were first reported on Monday this week by Marijuana Moment, a cannabis news site.

Thirty-three states and the nation’s capital have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, including 10 that have passed recreational laws permitting adults to use the plant for personal use despite the federal prohibition.

Marijuana is considered a Schedule 1 narcotic under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, placing the plant in a category reserved for drugs the federal government has deemed prone to abuse and lacking medical value.

In June, meanwhile, the FDA approved Epidiolex, a drug used to treat epileptic seizures, making it the first FDA-approved drug that contains a substance derived from marijuana. The drug became available to U.S. customers earlier this month.

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