Biden’s Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy made statements on Sunday claiming that marijuana users shouldn’t be incarcerated for using the federally prohibited substance.
Murthy spoke to Dana Bash on CNN, expressing that he believes there’s no “value” added to either society or its individuals by punishing marijuana use. He added that the greater issue is how science isn’t guiding policy-making when it comes to marijuana.
Murthy’s comments follow the announcement of a bill drafted by Senate Democrats which seeks to federally decriminalize marijuana. The bill also seeks to expunge criminal convictions against individuals who are federally incarcerated over marijuana but have no violence-related charges. Additionally, the bill would place a federal tax on all marijuana products.
The proposal allows for states to continue to set their own policies regarding marijuana, and removes collateral substance consequences in situations such as immigration-related offenses.
For decades, young people have been arrested and jailed for carrying even a small amount of marijuana.
It's long past time for change.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) July 14, 2021
When Murthy was asked whether or not he supported the decriminalization of cannabis from the perspective of medicine and public health, he simply stated that “we [must] let science guide us.”
US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy says he doesn't think "that there is value to individuals or to society to lock people up for marijuana use" but emphasizes the need to "let science guide our process and policymaking" #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/g3gNEDEcQ8
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) July 18, 2021
Murthy went on to say that science has revealed several benefits that come with use of marijuana, but warned that there are also many “harms we have to consider.” In his opinion, the upsides and downsides of population level effects of marijuana must be considered and balanced when “we think about the right policy.”
Murthy explained that part of the role of the surgeon general is to work alongside policy-makers and the public “to help people understand… science,” adding that when there’s gaps in the information, those gaps must be filled “with research… with honest inquiry.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced last week after the Democrat bill was unveiled that President Biden still stands in opposition to decriminalization, but did say that the president was more willing to work on criminal reform efforts that reduce the severity of possession charges.
Author: Angela Dawson