U.S. Surgeon General Says We Need to Reschedule Cannabis to Improve Research Opportunities

Emily Robertson December 19, 2018 0 comments

Dr. Jerome Adams, the current Surgeon General for the United States, is stepping up to express his view that Schedule I is restricting research and that needs to change. 

Editor’s Note: This article is archived. 02/07/2020

The big guns are coming into the fight for cannabis reform in the U.S. This month, the Surgeon General of the United States government, Jerome Adams, expressed a belief that the Schedule I status of cannabis is restricting research. He believes this lack of research has created a Catch-22 where cannabis can’t be rescheduled because researchers are unable to adequately prove its medicinal benefit.

Can I get an Amen?

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Adams has shown support for cannabinoids for medical intent, though so far, hasn’t expressed any opinion on the topic of recreational cannabis. In light of the big changes coming to the landscape of medical and recreational cannabis in the states, the Surgeon General’s support for improved research access is unsurprising. Thirty-three states now have medical cannabis laws, fourteen have laws that allow for medical CBD products, and a full ten others have legalized recreational cannabis.

The Surgeon General’s Suggestions

Dr Adams expressed his interest in revamping the criminal justice and health policies in the United States. His first suggestion was to reclassify cannabis, which would not only allow for research but would also reduce or eradicate prison sentences for so-called cannabis crime.

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Adams took part in a Q&A session with the Police Assisted Recovery Initiative conference this month. He explained, “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 went on to say that, “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.”

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His statements come alongside increased support from both ends of the political spectrum. Bipartisan movements to reschedule cannabis have been expanding so that cannabis research may soon have a separate federal registration process for research. This is good news, as it may mean fewer hurdles for researchers to jump if they want to study cannabis.

Is This Hope for the Future?

With the Surgeon General now on board for rescheduling and Jeff Sessions out of the Department of Justice, it’s possible that cannabis is on its way to gaining the policy renewal it desperately needs.

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Michael Collins, Director of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance is hopeful. He said in an email to Marijuana Moment, “Let’s hope the surgeon general takes a walk over to the Justice Department and tells the staff that Sessions left behind that they may now enter the 21st century, safely leaving behind the antiquated approach to drugs embodied by their dreadful ex-boss.”

Well, that really depends on who the next Attorney General is. But, Collins is right that this could be a great opportunity for the Justice Department to catch up to the current movement across the globe to accept cannabis as a viable medicine.

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And it’s important to note that Dr Adams hasn’t 100% backed cannabis. He has, in the past, shared his own doubts about the medicine and wondered if it really is a good option outside of opioids. That said, he is known to be progressive, backing other research, including syringe programs that have faced backlash across North America from those who think it’s “encouraging” intravenous drug use. And he is willing to look at the results of cannabis research.

Caution makes sense in his position. It’s just too bad the same caution wasn’t given to opioids and opioid research by those who formerly held the position of Surgeon General.


Author avatar

Emily Robertson

Emily Robertson has been writing freelance and contract work since 2011. She has written on a variety of topics, including travel writing of North America and the growing legalized cannabis industry across the globe. Robertson has a master’s degree in literature and gender studies, and brings this through in her writing by always trying to explore different perspectives. Born and raised in southwestern Ontario, Robertson moved to Glasgow, Scotland in 2016 to undergo her doctorate in Scottish Literature. She lives in the West End with her dog, Henley.

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