President Trump’s surgeon general, Jerome Adams, discussed reviewing marijuana’s placement under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, raising concerns Thursday over its effect on restricting scientific and medical research.
The top adviser to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, Mr. Adams touched on the topic during an event on drug addiction at Harvard University in Boston, the State House Wire Service reported.
“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,” Mr. Adams said during a question-and-answer session, the outlet reported.
“I’ll take it somewhere else: marijuana. We need to look at the way we schedule different medications across the board, because one of the concerns that I have with marijuana is the difficulty that the folks have to do research on it, because of the scheduling system,” he said.
Marijuana is prohibited under federal law and considered a “Schedule 1” drug under the U.S Controlled Substances Act of 1970, placing the plant alongside heroin and ecstasy in a category reserved for drugs the government considers to have no “currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”
Thirty-three states have passed laws legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, making most of the country at odds with the federal government’s longstanding prohibition. Its status as a controlled substance has created obstacles for scientists hoping to study the plant’s effects, however, complicating research into marijuana’s potential benefits and drawing complaints from lawmakers and legalization advocates.
“While there are many varying opinions on the issue of marijuana, one thing we all can agree on is that we need qualified researchers to study the science to determine if there are any potential medicinal benefits to chemicals derived from cannabis,” Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican and the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said after the panel recently passed a bill expanding the list of marijuana growers approved to harvest government-grade weed from one to three.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, introduced legislation in June that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level by removing it from the government’s list of controlled substances.
More recently, the National League of Cities, a group representing more than 19,000 municipalities, passed a resolution last month urging the government to reconsider marijuana’s status as a Schedule 1 drug and “pass legislation that would ensure states and local governments have the ability to establish laws and regulations on the manufacturing, distribution and sale of medical and adult-use cannabis within the state.”
Ten of the 33 states with medical marijuana laws have legalized the plant for recreational purposes, including seven with systems permitting adults to buy retail weed from licensed dispensaries.