U.S. Surgeon General Supports Medical Marijuana's 'Helpful' Benefits

By McCarton Ackerman 02/06/15

Vivek Murthy supported medical marijuana in a recent interview despite opposing legalization during his confirmation hearings.

Vivek Murthy
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Medical marijuana has found an unlikely ally in U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who stated that the drug can be “helpful” for certain conditions.

In an interview this Wednesday with CBS This Morning, Murthy said that more data was needed on the subject, but he appeared optimistic about the benefits of medical marijuana based on “preliminary data…for certain medical conditions and symptoms.” He also urged using this preliminary data “to drive policymaking.”

Murthy's assertions stood in stark contrast from his previous stance on marijuana. During a senate confirmation hearing last year, Murthy said he opposed legalization and stated that he didn’t “think it’s a good habit to use marijuana.”

Perhaps surprisingly, previous U.S. Surgeon Generals have also echoed his recent sentiments. Regina Benjamin, who held the position from 2009-2013, said she believed that marijuana could have medicinal benefits. Jocelyn Elders, who held the position in the early ‘90s, went even further by claiming that pot wasn’t addictive and that she supported legalization.

Pediatricians’ groups have also been supportive of medical marijuana research. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said they were in favor of using cannabis for children who had either severely debilitating or life-limiting conditions. They suggested reclassifying marijuana to a Schedule II drug in order to more easily facilitate research in this area. There have not currently been any studies on the effectiveness of cannabinoids for children with certain medial conditions.

Marijuana is currently labeled as a Schedule I drug by the federal government, meaning it has no accepted medical benefits. It’s currently in the same category as heroin and crack cocaine.

However, the AAP also said they opposed medical marijuana unless it was approved by the FDA. There are currently only two FDA-approved drugs that contain synthetic cannabinoids, according to LiveScience. The AAP also acknowledged that marijuana has negative consequences including decreased concentration and impaired short-term memory.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.