Surgeon General Acknowledges “Marijuana Can Be Helpful”

Surgeon General Acknowledges Marijuana Can Be Helpful

Washington, DC: Newly appointed US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told CBS News last week that he believes that cannabis is a beneficial therapy for some patients.

Speaking on the program ‘CBS This Morning,’ Murthy said: "We have some preliminary data showing that for certain medical conditions and symptoms that marijuana can be helpful." He added, "I think we have to use that data to drive policy making and I’m very interested to see where that data takes us."

Later that evening, however, Murthy appeared to retreat from his initial public comments. In a Department of Health and Human Services statement attributed to the Surgeon General, Murthy said, "While clinical trials for certain components of marijuana appear promising for some medical conditions, neither the FDA nor the Institute of Medicine have found smoked marijuana to meet the standards for safe and effective medicine for any condition to date."

Doctor Murthy was confirmed as US Surgeon General late last year.

Commenting on the Surgeon General’s statements, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: "It was predictable that the Surgeon General would try to dial back his initial comments since they were inconsistent with the Schedule I classification of marijuana under federal law — a scheduling that defines the plant and its organic compounds as possessing ‘no currently accepted medical use …. in the United States’ and lacking ‘accepted safety … under medical supervision.’ Yet, it is obvious from the Surgeon’s General’s initial remarks that he, like the overwhelming majority of Americans, believes this prohibitive classification is out of step with both modern science and with public opinion."

On Wednesday in Sacramento, a federal judge heard final arguments in a motion challenging the constitutionality of cannabis’ Schedule I classification. In October, defense counsel and experts presented evidence over a five-day period arguing that the scientific literature is not supportive of the plant’s present categorization.

A ruling on the motion is expected later this year.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org.