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Politics

The New Surgeon General Just Said That Pot Can Be Good For You

He said the science on the issue should drive U.S. drug policy.

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U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told CBS medical marijuana may be helpful in treating certain medical conditions.

AP Charles Dharapak

"We have some preliminary data showing that for certain medical conditions and symptoms, medical marijuana can be helpful," said Murthy, who took up the post in December. "You have to use that data to drive policy-making."

But he's not explicitly backing legalization.

After Murthy's interview, the Department of Health and Human Services released a statement on his behalf:

While clinical trials for certain components of marijuana appear promising for some medical conditions, neither the FDA nor the Institute of Medicine have found smoked marijuana to meet the standards for safe and effective medicine for any condition to date.

It's incredibly difficult for researchers to get approval to look into medical marijuana, and existing research is very limited.

The process of requesting funds is tedious, as prospective researchers must get approval from multiple federal agencies. Getting the go-ahead isn't easy.

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Despite the federal ban on marijuana use, 23 states so far have legalized pot for medical purposes.

AP Elaine Thompson

Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Colorado, and Washington, D.C. have even legalized pot for recreational use.

Though federal policy hasn't changed, President Barack Obama put it this way to YouTube vlogger Hank Green in January: “We’re not going to spend a lot of resources trying to turn back decisions that have been made at the state level on this issue.”

The White House also hasn't yet commented on Murthy's take.

In January, they told BuzzFeed News, "The Federal Government opposes drug legalization because it runs counter to a public health and safety approach to drug policy."

Watch Murthy's full interview here.

Julie Kliegman is a News Fellow and is based in New York.

Contact Julie Kliegman at Julie.Kliegman@buzzfeed.com.

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