Office of National Drug Control Policy head admits cannabis has medical benefits

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More support for medical marijuana’s place in society is coming from the highest levels

The week began with several statements from the White House drug czar, who acknowledged the therapeutic potential of marijuana in the treatment of pain. On the other hand, he made it clear that the US president’s administration has not gone off the rails with respect to its support for various reforms such as cannabis declassification. Joe Biden reportedly continues to believe that current federal policies related to cannabis have not been effective.

Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Rahul Gupta gave different views on the marijuana issue after being part of a House Reform and Oversight Committee hearing yesterday. Although the current administration has faced harsh criticism after failing to deliver on campaign promises of marijuana reform, Gupta indicated that he is aware of the policy problems that prevail under the status quo of federal prohibition.

An interesting response came to light when asked about the apparent contradiction that exists related to marijuana because while it is considered banned by the federal government, there is still evidence that its compounds may be ideal for treating chronic pain even better than less regulated opioids. “There is evidence to suggest that, in cases of some chronic pain, cannabis can be effective,” said Gupta, who previously provided consulting services to a cannabis company before serving in the White House.

While Gupta accepts that the president has been clear about decriminalization, he says it also remains critically important to conduct research from a medical use perspective. The ONDCP director made similar statements in an interview a few weeks ago, adding that the administration is actively monitoring states that have legalized marijuana to inform federal policy.