Bill Nye doesn’t like the smell of marijuana. He hasn’t quite figured out the smoking part, either. But he certainly wouldn’t mind studying it.
Most people know Bill Nye as “The Science Guy,” a character designed to teach children the value of science, and perhaps more importantly, pry them away from the tedium of textbook-style learning.
Nye has a knack for making science fun and interesting, and while he’s dropped the “Science Guy” suffix, his contemporary work deserves the same impassioned chorus of “Bill! Bill! Bill!” he once evoked in public school classrooms everywhere.
Recently, Nye sat down with the video channel NowThis to discuss the ins-and-outs of medical marijuana research—or rather, the lack thereof.
“Whoever tells you they know what it does, they don’t. Marijuana’s effects have not been fully studied.” Nye tells NowThis.
The major roadblock, according to Nye, is a chicken-and-egg problem with marijuana’s Federal status as a Schedule I drug. Marijuana’s Schedule I status “means it’s presumed to be addictive and it’s presumed to have no medical value.” Nye says in the video. But we know that this isn’t true, so why don’t we study it? “Well, you’re not allowed to study it because it’s a Schedule I drug,” and presumed to have no medical value.
According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Schedule I drugs are “substances or chemicals that are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are: heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote.” But we know that marijuana does not belong on the same list as heroin and ecstasy. And keeping marijuana on this list creates a whole list of bureaucratic roadblocks to studying it.
Researchers looking to obtain medical marijuana for research purposes can only do so from the University of Mississippi’s cannabis farm, which grows notoriously subpar weed. The enormous amount of paperwork necessary for studying marijuana is also a major deterrent.
For these reasons, the medicinal properties and benefits of marijuana—despite being widely used and legalized in some form in 29 states—lacks a solid body of research.
Nye also argues that legalization makes sense from an economic point of view. “Well, I lived in Washington State for a long time. And Washington state legalized it in 2012.” He tells NowThis. “We legalized marijuana. We tax it, we have a lot of tax revenue. It’s no longer criminalized, we don’t spend money on the police department. We spend money regulating the industry in the same way we regulate other substances.” As a result, the state collected $189 million in legal marijuana income and license fees last year, according to the Washington State Treasurer. So not only is marijuana lucrative but as Nye says, the world is still spinning.
In fact, the only observable downside to marijuana use, according to Nye, is that it makes for poor ultimate Frisbee players. A bummer for Frisbee aficionados like Bill, sure, but I think we can live with that.