Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Sunday said he doesn’t believe there is “value” in people being incarcerated for marijuana use, with his opinion coming as Democrat lawmakers propose decriminalizing it at the federal level.
“I don’t think there is value for individuals or to society to lock people up for marijuana use. I don’t think that serves anybody well,” he told CNN’s Dana Bash.
When it comes to policymaking, Murthy said, “We need to let science guide us.”
“The science tells us there are some benefits for marijuana from the medical perspective but there are also some harms that we have to consider and we have to put those together when it comes to the right policy,” he said.
Senate Democrats last week released plans to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, tax it, and invest the revenue “in the communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs.”
“The waste of human resources because of the historic over-criminalization of marijuana has been one of the great historic wrongs of the last decades,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), one of the bill’s sponsors, said at a news conference. “We’re going to fight hard to change it.”
The proposed legislation faces an uphill battle in the divided Senate.
President Joe Biden has said he supports decriminalizing marijuana but has not endorsed legalizing it at the federal level. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that his position has not changed.
Back in March, the White House controversially fired five staffers after they were asked about their marijuana use as part of a vetting process for security clearance.