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Surgeon General Jerome Adams Calls for Review of the U.S. Drug Classification System


U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams recently spoke at a national summit on police efforts to address the national opioid epidemic and made an interesting claim about medical marijuana. At the Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative conference in Massachusetts, Adams said that more research regarding the effectiveness of cannabis medicine needs to be conducted. Adams was responding to a question about the U.S. Controlled Substances Act (CSA), saying that there should be a review of the way the government classifies medication.

“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,” Adams said.

One might wonder why there is a police summit addressing the national opioid epidemic, and not a national summit featuring testimonials from doctors, addiction counselors, patients and parents of children who have experience with the cannabis plant. Adams went on to express his concerns about the way the government classifies all drugs.

“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,” Adams said.

This isn’t the first time that Adams has shown his support for more research on the effectiveness of medical marijuana. Around this time last year, at the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, Adams said that cannabis should be treated “like any other drug.” This also isn’t the first time that the schedule 1 classification of cannabis has been called into question. The DEA reviewed the classification of marijuana back in the summer of 2016, but ultimately decided to keep the classification of the plant medicine as a schedule 1. Schedule 1 drugs are classified as having no medicinal value and a high risk for addiction.

It’s refreshing to see Adams take a more evidence-based approach to cannabis, after the insanity of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. And while it’s also great to hear a public official of Adams’ stature making these types of statements, cannabis advocates might be prompted to wonder what exactly is the right amount of research needed for the plant medicine to finally be declassified after all these years of harmful prohibition. How much more do we need to peer through the looking glass? There have been many studies conducted about the effectiveness of cannabis medicine in treating chronic pain and opioid addiction. Advocates of legal cannabis are likely wondering how many hoops need to be jumped through to have nationwide legalization, or at the very least, declassification from schedule 1.