Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Sunday said he does not think there is any “value” to locking up people for marijuana use.
The nation’s top doctor spoke as the Senate considers a bill to legalize Cannabis at the federal level.
“I don’t think that there is value to individuals or to society to lock people up for marijuana use. I don’t think that serves anybody well,” Murthy told host Dana Bash on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “In terms of our approach to marijuana, I worry when we don’t let science guide our process in policy-making,” he added.
Murthy was answering a question about a new draft federal marijuana legalization bill that was circulated last week by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and other top senators, reports Marijuana Moment.
Murthy: ‘Let the Science Guide Us’
The surgeon general stopped short of endorsing full-scale commercial cannabis legalization. But his comments do indicate support for an approach that would at least decriminalize low-level possession, Marijuana Moment noted.
President Joe Biden, who opposes adult-use legalization, campaigned on a platform of incremental decriminalization and expunging past records.
“When it comes to marijuana, I think we have to let science guide us,” Murthy said in the CNN interview.
…But The Mixed Signals, Man
Previously, in 2015, Murthy said there is “preliminary data showing that for certain medical conditions and symptoms, that marijuana can be helpful.” But in 2018, he said he is “concerned about how rapidly states have been legalizing marijuana” because there are a “lot of unknowns” about its effects. Cannabis is, in fact, one of the most-studied substances in medical history.
When asked on Sunday if he supports the current federal legalization initiative from a health perspective, Murthy said that when discussing Cannabis, “we have to let science guide us.”
He also said there are some benefits to the substance, based on science. But he noted “some harms we have to consider.”
“And we have to put those together as we think about the right policy,” he added.
Murthy said his job as surgeon general is to “work with policy-makers, to work with members in the community and the general public to help people understand what science tells us.”
“And, where you have gaps, to help fill those gaps with research and with honest inquiry,” he added.
Murthy previously served as surgeon general under the Obama administration.