U.S. Surgeon General: ‘Marijuana Can Be Helpful’


The nation’s top doctor says that marijuana has medical benefits for some patients.

In a Wednesday appearance on “CBS This Morning,” Dr. Vivek Murthy, surgeon general of the United States, said, “We have some preliminary data showing that for certain medical conditions and symptoms, that marijuana can be helpful.”

“I think that we have to use that data to drive policymaking,” he added.

Calling the debate about marijuana an “interesting story that’s unfolding in our country right now,” Murthy said “we have to see what the science tells us about the efficacy of marijuana, and I think were gonna get a lot more data on that” as more states change their laws.

But for now, the surgeon general’s comments that cannabis does indeed have benefits for some patients is likely to add fuel to the debate about the drug’s status under federal law as a Schedule I controlled substance. That category is supposed to be reserved only for drugs that have no accepted medical value.

Murthy isn’t the first surgeon general to wade into the debate about marijuana and drug policy. In 1993, Joycelyn Elders, the surgeon general under the Clinton administration, said the U.S. should seriously consider legalizing drugs. “I do feel we’d markedly reduce our crime rate if drugs were legalized,” she said at the time. Since leaving office, Elders has actively campaigned for states to pass medical marijuana laws.

Another doctor that President Obama considered nominating to be surgeon general, CNN’s Sanjay Gupta, has strongly endorsed medical marijuana. After it was leaked that the White House was likely to nominate him, Gupta took himself out of consideration for the position, saying he didn’t want to give up being a practicing neurosurgeon.

Murthy’s comments, which add to a growing consensus in the medical community that marijuana has benefits, could increase pressure on the attorney general to initiate the process of reclassifying the drug under federal law.

About Author

Tom Angell covers policy and politics for Marijuana.com. Separately, he serves as chairman of the nonprofit organization Marijuana Majority, which works to ensure that elected officials and the media treat legalization as a serious, mainstream issue. Marijuana Majority led the effort to get the U.S. Conference of Mayors to pass a resolution telling the federal government to respect state marijuana laws, and orchestrated the first-ever endorsement for marijuana legalization by a U.S. Supreme Court justice (John Paul Stevens). Previously, Tom worked for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. (All organizations are listed for identification purposes only.)


  1. Nancy Nicolai on

    So is alcohol a substance that has an acceptable medical value because it’s probably the single most Dangerous substance abused & that kills by drunken drivers than anything else and it’s PERFECTLY LEGAL & not one person in Washington DC or a State house screaming for ALCOHOL to be Outlawed NO We Can’t do that because Everyone Drinks Right Wrong it’s Wrong & it needs to STOP Now!!!

  2. Robert Proctor on

    “That [Schedule 1] category is supposed to be reserved only for drugs that have no accepted medical value.”
    If you’re a statist bureaucrat stuck in a Drug War perpetrated by “reefer madness” lies and foisted upon the American people by the prison industrial complex. The Schedule of Controlled Substances is supposed not to exist in a free country. Abolish it and the Nixonian DEA horse it rode in on.

  3. Nixon not only started the drug wars but he in his Infinite wisdom also devalued the dollar so all of the gold in Fort Nox is worthless and the US government can print all the money they wanted to to fund the Vietnam War and they have just kept doing it then the credit card crunch started so our money is worthless & we have wasted alot of it but most importantly hundreds of thousands of lives for a Drug War that should have been scraped a long time ago t& to top it off the government has known all along that Cannabis CURES so they ARE ASSBUTTS they all need to be replaced the whole system needs to be reworked!!!LEGALIZATION

  4. I would love for some of these people that say it has no medical value to live in my shoes for a week constantly being tortured. I currently live in a state where it is illegal and they think its better for me to be on 9 different medications right now including opiates, benzos, antipsychotics, antidepressants all kinds of crap that are horrible for me and don’t work as well for me as marijuana did by itself when I was self medicating. I don’t see how they can tell me these medications are better for me but have to check my blood work every month to make sure my kidneys and liver aren’t failing that im not getting diabetes that my cholesterol isn’t too high and basically just not dying and marijuana has 0 reported harms to anyone in history. Theyre so crazy they’ve had me on as many as 21 medications at one time. But I’ll have enough money saved up to move to Colorado in six months and wont have to put up with this nonsense anymore and I’ll only have to take one medication that is not bad for me instead of all these other medicines that are horrible for me and have horrible side effects.

    • It should seriously be a crime to put me and millions of other people through the torture we go through by not making marijuana legal at least for medical reasons. It makes me so mad words cant describe it.

    • Steve Susumu Monas on

      Good for you glad you see others benefiting from MMJ. I my self was on over 30 pharmaceutical meds. I finally stopped my last psych med last week. Not just meds as needed…

      Steve monas

Leave A Reply