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As Texarkana, Ark., awaits the opening of its first legal medical marijuana dispensaries, we are still concerned about one pesky detail.

While medical pot may now be legal in Arkansas, it remains a Schedule 1 narcotic and completely illegal under federal law.

Right now Washington has a hands-off policy toward states with legal marijuana. That could change and change fast. In any case, the conflict between state and federal law will come to a head one day. The question is just how that will happen.

Former U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb offered some advice recently during a speech at Samford University School of Pharmacy in Homewood, Alabama.

Gottlieb doesn't favor wholesale legalization, but says the federal government should regulate and study marijuana to determine the actual health benefits — and risks — of the plant.

Right now there are a lot of anecdotal claims of good and harm, but little actual science to back them up.

"These are addressable challenges. Congress can take specific action to enable easier access to cannabis that's appropriate for medical research," Gottlieb said.

"Ultimately, we need to move past the social stigma around cannabis and address these complex public health and regulatory issues objectively," he added.

Get the facts first and then decide the best course in regard to legalization. Sounds sensible to us.

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