Medical marijuana doesn't exist as far as the federal government is concerned. That's the message US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar shared with reporters yesterday.
“There really is no such thing as medical marijuana,” Azar said during a press conference on opioids held in Ohio. “There is no FDA approved use of marijuana, a botanical plant. I just want to be very clear about that.”
Technically, Secretary Azar is correct. Federal law defines marijuana as a drug that has no accepted medical uses and is as dangerous as heroin. However, 31 states and Washington DC disagree with the feds' definition. That's how many jurisdictions have legalized medical marijuana, which is used by over two million Americans from coast to coast.
But instead of recognizing the absurd contradiction between state and federal law, Azar reinforced the government's position while discussing opioids, which claimed the lives of over 49,000 Americans in 2016 alone. And that's particularly ironic given that recent studies suggest medical marijuana could help people wean themselves off of opioid addiction and prevent others from getting hooked by offering a safer alternative to percocets and other opioid painkillers.
But that's unlikely to happen so long as people like Secretary Azar continue to stand by the American government's horrendously outdated definition of marijuana.
h/t Dayton Daily News