While the U.S. surgeon general isn’t a law enforcement position like the attorney general and doesn’t direct the nation’s drug policy like a drug czar does, he is the federal government’s leading spokesperson on matters of public health, and can be a significant influence when it comes to legislation. And speaking of legislation, where does our current surgeon general stand on marijuana legalization?
An anesthesiologist and former Indiana state health commissioner, current U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams took office in September of 2017. While Adams is opposed to recreational marijuana use — and especially smoking cannabis, even for medicinal purposes — he believes the federal government should reconsider how it classifies marijuana and other drugs, rightfully pointing out that pot’s current status as a Schedule I substance has blocked scientific research.
Adams’ stance is a positive development for the legal cannabis industry, which faced insecurity about its future during the tenure of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and which has questions about the views on legalization of President Trump’s pick to replace Sessions, William Barr.
As we have discussed previously, in classifying marijuana under Schedule 1, not only has the government declared pot to have no health benefits, but it also says the drug has a higher potential for abuse than drugs like cocaine, methamphetamines, and Vicodin.
During a recent national summit on law enforcement’s efforts to combat the nation’s current opioid epidemic, Adams — who previously expressed support for expanding research into the use of cannabinoids for therapeutic purposes — called for a review of the way the government schedules different medications, including marijuana.
“Just as we need to look at criminal justice laws, rules and regulations, we need to look at health laws, rules and regulations, and that includes the scheduling system,” Adams said.
Echoing a similar speech he made last December at the National Black Caucus of State Legislators’ annual conference, Adams advocated for giving the Food and Drug Administration greater access to study medical marijuana.
As 420 Intel aptly notes, Adams places a premium on basing policy decisions on science, not the “threadbare prejudices that have hampered federal drug reform for decades.”
While he is skeptical about the potential of cannabis’ potential to help people combat opioid abuse, Adams at least appears to support scientists’ ability to research that potential. That’s more than Sessions has ever supported.
Stay tuned to The Sugar Leaf for updates.