US Surgeon General: Slow Down On Cannabis, It’s Going Too Far
“There’s No Such Thing As Medical Marijuana”: US Surgeon General Shuns Cannabis
The Surgeon General of the United States is a role taken by the head of the US Public Health Service Commission Corps.
He is the top authority when it comes to public health, and his views are highly regarded. His role oversees over 6,700 public health professionals who work in the federal government, and are mandated to advance the state of health throughout the country.
Or so they say.
So why is the current US Surgeon General shunning the use of cannabis?
US Surgeon General Jerome Adams spent a great deal of his Sunday morning at the Aspen Ideas Festival discussing why the movement on cannabis has gone too far.
“I’m very, very concerned as surgeon general about how far and how fast we’re going on marijuana in this country,” he told the audience. The host, Patrick Harker, agreed that cannabis was indeed spreading too fast in the United States, where 33 states already have legal cannabis laws in place while 10 states permit the use of recreational cannabis.
“In our world it’s a serious issue, because states have legalized it,” said Harker. “But under federal law, banks cannot bank with those businesses and any ancillary businesses. So it’s not just the marijuana dispensaries or the places growing marijuana. It’s the warehouse owner. You cannot bank with that owner if their income, or a substantial portion, is coming from marijuana growth.”
“So where’s that money going? It’s not going into federally chartered banks, and so it is raising issues about the financial stability. It’s a fast-growing business.”
“Not Your Mother’s Marijuana”
Adams also called out the rising tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels of today’s cannabis, saying that it’s far different from the cannabis consumed decades ago. “You now have professionally grown strains that are 20, 30% THC, and then they’re concentrating them into oil, into waxes. When they’re vaping, and they’re dabbing and they’re shattering, you’re getting 90, 95% THC. That’s like the difference between you having a glass of wine and a pint of grain alcohol.”
He added that there’s “no such thing as medical marijuana” but he did acknowledge that some of the plant’s ingredients contain “medicinal properties and medical promise.”
Adams also explains that he thinks cannabis has a negative impact on the economy, legal system, and society. “I think we have to have the courage to have a more nuanced conversation, particularly with so many folks out there coming out in favor of legalization and with an election coming up,” Adams says. “And from a social justice point of view, I’m terribly concerned about injustice, the fact that black men are more than four times likely to be arrested as white men for marijuana usage. But you already have a liquor store and a smoke shop on every corner in every black community. I don’t know that adding a marijuana dispensary to that mix is going to fix all our social justice ills.”
Well Mr. Surgeon General, there is some hard evidence out there that legalization is indeed the solution to all these societal and economic issues.
There are many studies that drive this point home; one of these includes a 2018 study showing how legal cannabis in Washington state alone led to a significant drop in crime. For the study, researchers assessed counties on both sides of the state border then compared crime data as well as data on drug and booze consumption.
The researchers found that legal cannabis “caused a significant reduction in rapes and property crimes on the Washington side of the border in 2013-14, relative to the Oregon side, and relative to the pre-legalization years 2010-12.”
The figures were pretty significant, too. “It reduced rapes by between 15 and 30 percent (between two and four occurrences per 100,000 inhabitants), and thefts by between 10 and 20 percent (between 60 and 100 per 100,00 inhabitants.”
Though it isn’t exactly clear why the change in law resulted in these developments, the researchers attribute it to the fact that cannabis induces a relaxed, euphoric state at least in most users. This in turn “reduces the likelihood of engaging in violent activities.”
That’s just one study out of many proving why cannabis is beneficial to society, and it doesn’t even include the thousands of studies out there proving the efficacy of cannabis for a multitude of health problems.
So why is our very own US Surgeon General shunning the benefits of cannabis?
He also seems to have changed his mind, as it was only last year when he called for the rescheduling of cannabis as a Schedule 1 substance, acknowledging that its status does more harm than good.