U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams is of the opinion that medical marijuana should be studied and treated like other pain relief drugs, but he is not in favor of recreational legalization.
"Under medical marijuana, I believe it should be like any other drug. We need to let the FDA vet it, study it... Marijuana is not one substance. It's actually over 100 different substances, some of which benefit, some of which are harmful."
The former Indiana state health commissioner was sworn in as surgeon general in September 2017. The Surgeon General’s office has typically recommended against smoking tobacco, a position that he feels fits into his opposition to marijuana for recreational use.
"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 stated at the National Black Caucus of State Legislators annual conference, which includes representatives from most states.
"So 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,” Adams said.
"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.”
The Indiana General Assembly has approved CBD (cannabidiol) for patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy. Patients must register with the Indiana State Department of Health.
In the upcoming Indiana General Assembly, State Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, intends to introduce two marijuana-related bills. One is to increase the availability of CBD with less than 0.3% THC. The other addresses legalization of medical cannabis.
"I want to put another tool in the toolbox for physicians," Lucas claimed.
State legislators are saying that they’ll review the law concerning CBD, but as of now, no one in Indiana is authorized to sell CBD. Anyone possessing a substance containing cannabidiol is subject to having it seized, according to Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill.
"We understand that cannabidiol is a substance about which we know very little and about which many hold out a good deal of hope that it may be that elusive cure for any number and kind of disease," Hill wrote. "But hoping and wishing are not the proper role of government."
"It was our intent to allow someone to be able to acquire that under those limited circumstances," said Senate Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne. "You have to buy it from someone. So that's the problem… I thought there was a compelling argument for kids particularly having epilepsy where it was actually working. We're not legalizing medical marijuana. I thought that was pretty clear as well.”
Though marijuana is illegal under federal law, it has been approved by 28 states so far to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Associated Press reported this week that a federal science advisory panel's recent evaluation of two decades' worth of studies found limited evidence that a synthetic chemical cousin of marijuana might help relieve PTSD, but also some data suggesting pot use could worsen symptoms.
A federally approved clinical trial of marijuana as a PTSD treatment for veterans is now underway in Phoenix.