Millions of Americans are able to walk into a marijuana dispensary and purchase bags of pot on the spot for a variety of medical ailments, but for researchers like Sue Sisley, a psychiatrist who studies post-
traumatic stress disorder, getting access to the drug isn't nearly so easy, says the Washington Post. That's because the federal government has a virtual monopoly on growing and cultivating marijuana for scientific research, and getting access to it requires three separate levels of approval.
Sisley’s four-month fight to get samples for a study illustrates the complex politics of marijuana. While 20 states plus Washington, D.C., have legalized medical marijuana and in Colorado and Washington state it is legal for recreational use, but it remains among the most tightly controlled substances under federal law. Scientists are frustrated that the federal government has made no efforts to speed the process of research. The Drug Enforcement Administration has turned down several petitions to reclassify cannabis, saying marijuana has no accepted medical use and remains a dangerous drug.