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U.S. Surgeon General Says He Supports Medical Cannabis Research, But Opposes Recreational Use

In a public speech, Surgeon General Adams also said he opposes smoking as a form of consumption. "How am I going to tell you not to smoke a cigarette but I am going to tell you to pick up a joint?”

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U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams has come out in support of medical cannabis research, but still opposes recreational legalization. Speaking at the National Black Caucus of State Legislators' annual conference in Indianapolis last week, Adams said that he believed medical cannabis "should be like any other drug," the News and Tribune reports. "We need to let the FDA vet it, study it, vet it. The FDA has actually approved cannabidiol oil and some derivatives of marijuana."

Although Adams' support of MMJ research is surprisingly forward-thinking for a member of the Trump administration, he still expressed reservations about potential risks of cannabis use. "Marijuana is not one substance," he said. "It's actually over 100 different substances, some of which benefit, some of which are harmful." Research on every individual substance that comprises cannabis is still in its early days, but to date, there is not a lot of evidence to support the claim that any one specific cannabinoid is more harmful than others.

Adams also said that he opposed the smoking of cannabis, noting that the Surgeon General's office has traditionally opposed cigarette smoking. "How am I going to tell you not to smoke a cigarette but I am going to tell you to pick up a joint? I can't do it, can't do it," he said, according to the News and Tribune. "I don't want 10 years down the road where we're seeing an epidemic of lung cancer among folks who are smoking medical marijuana."

Medical cannabis can, of course, be consumed in a number of ways that do not not require smoking, and several states that have legalized MMJ explicitly prohibit products that necessitate smoking.

Adams, who previously served as Indiana Health Commissioner before his appointment to Surgeon General, told attendees of the conference that "while I want to make sure we can get the ingredients of medical marijuana appropriately derived so that folks can access treatment, I also have concerns about us encouraging folks to go out and smoke because there's unintended consequences." These comments are timely, closely following Gov. Eric Holcomb's recent mandate that state excise police should check stores carrying CBD and remove any products containing trace amounts of THC. Although state law has legalized CBD as treatment for some conditions, Gov. Holcomb is now saying that any sales of CBD are illegal.

Adams' stance on medical cannabis is mostly in line with the views of Obama-era Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. "We have some preliminary data that for certain medical conditions and symptoms, that marijuana can be helpful," Murthy told CBS This Morning back in 2015. Murphy stopped short of recommending that states legalize medical or recreational marijuana, but, like the current Surgeon General, he added that government policy on cannabis should be driven by scientific facts.

"Marijuana policy — and all public health policies — should be driven by science," Murthy once said in an official statement. "I believe that marijuana should be subjected to the same, rigorous clinical trials and scientific scrutiny that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) applies to all new medications."

Murphy also shared the same belief as the current Surgeon General that smoking marijuana is harmful. "While clinical trials for certain components of marijuana appear promising for some medical conditions," he said in 2015, "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."