The FDA does not approve marijuana's psychoactive substance, THC, for any medicinal use, and possession of THC is a federal crime, except for prescription synthetic THC. However, 36 states legalized medical marijuana that includes THC. This legal dissonance looks startling to me. Given that, I wonder if medical marijuana is the only medicine in the US that is legalized in various states and nonetheless a Schedule 1 federal crime. And I clarify that this refers only to medicine and not Schedule 1 substances that are eligible for religious exception.

  • If it is a federal crime, it cannot be legalized in any state, the supremacy clause makes that an impossibility.
    – user4657
    Apr 11, 2021 at 7:44
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    @Nij I think the OP is using a practical definition of "legalized" in the sense of intentionally and systematically repealing state-level criminal statutes and imposing an official state-run regulatory regime (product inspections, age requirements, taxation, etc.) on dealing and cultivating as has been done by several states with marijuana. For example, are there any states where I can get a piece of paper that says that I'm a state-licensed professional crack dealer regulated by the State Board of Crack Purveyors and Merchants? Maybe there isn't. That's the question. Apr 11, 2021 at 22:10
  • Can you be arrested for possession or dealing in every state? Yes. Is there anything that can prevent it, given the authority is openly aware of it and wants to make that arrest? No.
    – user4657
    Apr 11, 2021 at 23:33

1 Answer 1


Basically yes.

Any controlled substance under federal law that is not a "Schedule I" controlled substance can be prescribed by a medical professional consistent with state law, so the scope of the conflict is modest.

Some examples of substances listed in Schedule I are: heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), peyote, methaqualone, and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine ("Ecstasy").

(But, keep in mind that heroin is basically almost indistinguishable from some Schedule II narcotics which can be prescribed, and that there is a narrow religious exemption for peyote.)

The other Schedule I drugs are not commonly legalized under state law, although there are a few cases (Oregon, e.g.) where state law has decriminalized use of certain Schedule I drugs (most often peyote) without truly legalizing them in a state endorsed regulatory regime as has been done with marijuana.

Sometimes imitation drugs that are chemical analogs of Schedule I drugs are criminalized on a case by case basis in an administrative process conducted in parallel at the federal and state level, with the state process in some states lagging the federal process. But that isn't really analogous to the situation with marijuana.

Also, keep in mind that the state action contrary to federal prohibition involves at least tacit consent from U.S. attorneys and from legislation from Congress limiting expenditures of federal funds for enforcement of state legal marijuana transactions in most casees.

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    Hi ohwilleke, You mentioned some important points that showed me I accidently permitted loopholes in my question. I edited my question to focus my it on Schedule 1 substances that are legal medication according to various state laws. And I exclude the religious exception from my question. Apr 13, 2021 at 0:48

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