Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former director of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has revealed that he believes that there are valid reasons why the U.S. federal government should consider decriminalizing marijuana at a national level. Gottlieb was speaking on Wednesday during an interview with C-SPAN’s Washington Journal.
Responding to a caller from Washington State who revealed that the legalization of recreational marijuana was showing good results in the state, Gottlieb remarked that it was important to draw a distinction between decriminalization and legalization.
The former director revealed that in his opinion, it wasn’t right from a public policy perspective to keep incarcerating people for low-level marijuana possession and those people suffer because of the resultant criminal records and yet other people who commit more serious offenses don’t suffer as much.
As a follow up question to this response, the show host asked Scott Gottlieb whether he ever made similar statements to the White House while he was still the FDA head. He responded that he had not, and added that his work at the FDA was focused on public health issues and delving into decriminalization would have been beyond his mandate.
Gottlieb explained that he is personally opposed to the legalization of marijuana, especially adult-use marijuana, because it raises public health concerns regarding how the developing brains of minors will be affected in the long-term due to the use of marijuana.
It should be remembered that recent research has shown that the rates of teen cannabis use reduce once states legalize recreational cannabis, contradicting the view held by the former FDA chief.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb also stated that there is need for the federal government to come up with a system which standardizes the marijuana laws in the states which have enacted laws to end cannabis prohibition. In his view, some states are “too permissive” while others have adequate protections in place, such as on matters of access by minors. Federal action would raise the bar and ensure that the states which legalize marijuana do so in a way that meets the minimum standards established by the federal government.
However, Gottlieb admitted that this is unlikely to happen any time soon since the federal government still has a lot of catching up to do on matters of marijuana. Analysts think industry players like Nabis Holdings Inc. (CSE: NAB) (OTC: NABIF) (FRA: 71P) and Organigram Holdings Inc. (TSX.V: OGI) (NASDAQ: OGI) can only wait until voters put their elected leaders under immense pressure so that they implement marijuana law reforms.
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