By Steve Elliott — President Barack Obama will state his full support for medical marijuana in a CNN special to be aired on Sunday.
The TV special, “Weed 3,” features CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon who changed his mind and began supporting medicinal cannabis after reviewing the evidence, reports Jonah Bennett at The Daily Caller.
The third installment of “Weed” has Dr. Gupta delving into the politics of medical marijuana research, including an interview with President Obama. In addition to supporting medicinal cannabis, the President advocates for alternative models of drug abuse treatment which don’t involve imprisonment.
The President had previously predicted that more states will legalize recreational cannabis, and has confirmed that although marijuana is still illegal under federal law, the feds won’t interfere as states implement legalization.
Gupta and Obama briefly discussed the recent bill on the Senate floor introduced by Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey. The bill would reschedule cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule II under federal law. Gupta asked if Obama supports Booker’s bill.
“You know, I think I’d have to take a look at the details, but I’m on record as saying that not only do I think carefully prescribed medical use of marijuana may in fact be appropriate and we should follow the science as opposed to ideology on this issue, but I’m also on record as saying that the more we treat some of these issues related to drug abuse from a public health model and not just from an incarceration model, the better off we’re going to be,” the President responded.
Obama pointed to declining usage rates of tobacco among American teens as an example of how effective public health education models can be — all without the threat of jail sentences.
“You know, one of the great victories of this country has been our ability to reduce incidences of smoking, increase the incidences of seat belt use,” Obama said to Gupta. “You know, we save tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of lives every single year.
“We didn’t throw anybody in jail; we just made sure that they were well-informed and if somebody has an addiction, we made sure that we made it easy for them to get help,” Obama said.
In late February, Obama pointed out that states have the option of discouraging marijuana in the same way public health models have reduced tobacco use – through education as opposed to a punitive approach which incarcerates nonviolent drug offenders.
“If the President means what he says about following science, then there’s no question he should support legislation to move marijuana out of Schedule I, a category that’s supposed to be reserved for substances with no medical value,” said Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority.
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