Dr. Vivek Murthy, the U.S Surgeon General, appeared on “CBS This Morning,” yesterday. Dr Murthy said, “We have some preliminary data showing that for certain medical conditions and symptoms, marijuana can be helpful.” The Surgeon General then added, “I think that we have to use that data to drive policymaking.”
The comments made by Surgeon General Murthy should be considered in the debate on the drug’s status under federal law as a Schedule I controlled substance. That category puts marijuana in a class of drugs that includes heroin and LSD. The less restrictive Schedule II classification, however, includes cocaine and meth. Any doctor who says marijuana is more dangerous than meth should have his or her head examined. The Schedule I classification is reserved only for drugs that have no accepted medical value.
Dr. Murthy is not the first Surgeon General to debate marijuana’s classification and the overall United States drug policy. In 1993, Joycelyn Elders, the Surgeon General under President Clinton, said the U.S. should seriously consider legalizing drugs. “I do feel we’d markedly reduce our crime rate if drugs were legalized,” she said at the time. Dr. Murthy’s statements, however, come at a time when medical marijuana is a hot topic in the United States.
This announcement comes nearly 18 months after Dr. Sanjay Gupta reversed his opinion on marijuana. Dr. Gupta had been a major critic of medical marijuana until he saw how cannabis had helped Charlotte Figi.
Murthy’s comments which add to a growing consensus in the medical community that marijuana has benefits, could lend support for the Attorney General to initiate the process to reclassify marijuana under federal law.