To most Americans, the U.S. Surgeon General is commonly associated with the warnings bearing his or her title on every pack of cigarettes sold in the United States dating back to 1970.
Since 2017, our Surgeon General has been a man named Jerome Adams, just the 20th person to hold the position in the history of our country.
Adams is an anesthesiologist by trade, which may explain his hazy takes on medical marijuana over the years. But it was his most recent comments on cannabis that got our attention, as Adams seems to have gotten it right for once.
Before being called up to the big leagues (bigly?) by Trump last year, Adams was enjoying the lack of limelight at his previous job as the Indiana State Health Commissioner. Outside of Indiana, nobody cares what the Indiana State Health Commissioner thinks about weed, right?
He first got on the radar of the cannabis community back in December of ’17 when he went on the record with a conflicted statement that made most of us want to simultaneously shake his hand and shake some sense into him.
He began by saying that he believes that cannabis needs to be studied by the FDA and vetted – great.
He then said that, “Marijuana is not one substance. It's actually over 100 different substances, some of which benefit, some of which are harmful.”
It gets worse… Adams then compared smoking cannabis to smoking cigarettes, saying, “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 added, dumbly, “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.”
Well, doc, we’ve got some good news for you.
People have been smoking cannabis for 5,000 years and unless you think that the cycle for cannabis-related lung cancer epidemics is 5010 years long, then it’s safe to say that your fears (and fear mongering) are unnecessary.
Ok, so that was last year. The country is evolving rapidly on the issue, so let’s check back in with the Surgeon General in June of this year when he was speaking at a forum discussion on the nation’s opioid epidemic which has only snowballed even larger under Adams’ watch.
When the topic of using cannabis for pain management as an alternative to dangerous and addictive opioid painkillers, Adams swung and whiffed. He claimed he is too concerned about the addictive properties of cannabis to recommend it as an alternative to opioid use.
Yeah, you read that right.
He compounded that ignorance by saying, “We know that exposing the developing brain to marijuana can prime the brain to addiction and have potential negative consequences including promoting cancer.”
So, if you are keeping score at home…
Cannabis is more dangerously addictive than opiate-based painkillers and it also “promotes” cancer.
Should be seeing those cannabis-related cancer stats rolling in any millennia now, right Surg?
Ok, so Adams has been less than impressive up until now. But today we got another quote from the Surgeon General when it comes to marijuana, and for once we really have nothing bad to say as he seems to maybe, possibly, finally be coming around on the topic.
Speaking in front of the Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative conference, Adams took questions about the nation’s multifaceted approach to drug use and how it is related to the criminal justice system when he decided to steer the conversation in a different direction.
“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”, said Adams, before adding, “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.”
As far as we know, he didn’t immediately disappoint the thinkers in the audience with some half-baked analogy to cigarettes, so kudos Mr. Surgeon General, sir!
Is he right about the totally illogical insistence by our federal government that cannabis remain a Schedule I narcotic with no deemed medicinal use?
He sure is.
Do we think that this random blurb in front of a small room of people is going to be the catalyst for true cannabis reform on the federal level?
No, we sure don’t.
But it was, for a change, a refreshing bit of sanity from the upper levels of our government as we continually challenge their fact-free and baseless claims from the grassroots on up.