Could federal marijuana legalization be near?
President Obama’s new U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, didn’t exactly advise people to rush out and buy a new water bong or marijuana wrapping papers, but the surgeon general did suggest on Wednesday that medical marijuana research is proving that marijuana “can be helpful” for certain medical conditions.
During the CBS interview, the surgeon general also said that measles vaccines are safe and effective, but his support of medical marijuana research and changing U.S. marijuana policies is what had marijuana advocates clicking their Birkenstocks and readying to light up.
“We have some preliminary data showing that for certain medical conditions and symptoms that marijuana can be helpful… So I think we have to use that data to drive policymaking, and I’m very interested to see where that data takes us.”
While not openly endorsing marijuana legalization for medical and recreational uses, Surgeon General Murthy was definitely open to exploring the future of marijuana, also known as ganja, weed, and hippy-lettuce.
“My position is we have to see what the science tells us about the efficacy of marijuana, and I think we’re going to get a lot more data on that,” the surgeon general said.
According to the Huffington Post, Murthy isn’t the first surgeon general to explore the role of marijuana in the United States and to question U.S. drug policy. President Clinton’s surgeon general, Joycelyn Elders, voiced her belief, in 1993, that legalizing drugs in the U.S. would dramatically reduce the crime rate. Elders also called for the legalization of marijuana, specifically, in 2010.
Along with the new surgeon general, other doctors have also stepped up to the plate on behalf of the benefits of marijuana. These include CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta, who has made two documentaries citing marijuana’s positive medical attributes, and also believes medical marijuana should be legalized nationally.
Even the American Academy of Pediatrics has called on the Drug Enforcement Administration to pull marijuana off the Schedule I List of drugs, where it currently resides along side heroin and LSD, to allow research for marijuana’s potential medical uses to move forward.
Though the federal marijuana laws remain in the relative dark ages, 23 states have legalized medical marijuana and two other states are working toward enacting possible medical marijuana laws by 2016.
Countless others agree that reclassifying marijuana federally, and recognizing it socially, is also long overdue, including the chairman of the drug policy reform group Marijuana Majority, Tom Angell.
“Dr. Murthy’s comments add to a growing consensus in the medical community that marijuana can help people suffering from painful conditions. It’s crazy that federal law still considers marijuana a Schedule I drug, a category that’s supposed to be reserved for substances with no medical value. In light of these comments from his top medical adviser, the president should direct the attorney general to immediately begin the process of rescheduling marijuana.”
But whether or not the new surgeon general and President Obama will consider actually changing the relationship between marijuana and federal law will be interesting to see.
[Image via the Weed Blog]