According to US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, “there really is no such thing as medical marijuana.” Take a minute and let that sink in. The Cabinet member who advises the President on matters of health does not believe marijuana is medicinal.
Azar made the audacious claim last week in Ohio during a press conference on opioids at an inpatient facility that treats newborns suffering from prenatal drug exposure. He went on to say, “there is no FDA approved use of marijuana, a botanical plant. I just want to be very clear about that.”
Yes, he is correct that the FDA has not approved cannabis as a medicine. But if Azar seriously believes that marijuana has no medicinal properties, he is way off the mark. Just ask the doctors.
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According to a 2013 survey published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 76 percent of physicians responding from around the world were in favor of medicinal cannabis, even though many came from jurisdictions in which it is totally illegal. A 2014 WebMD survey reported that 82 percent of U.S. oncologists and hematologists were in favor of patients having access to medical cannabis.
Of course, Azar may be a bit biased. Before being tapped to become head of the Dept. of Health and Human Services, Azar spent a decade at Eli Lily, one of biggest players in the pharmaceutical industry. For the last five years, Azar was the president of Eli Lily and served on the board of directors of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a pharmaceutical lobby.
The relief provided by cannabis is very real. Most cannabis patients are searching for relief and finding it with cannabis, sometimes as a last resort.
Indeed, more than two million Americans in 31 states legally use cannabis for a treatment for an assortment of conditions, including seizures, cancer, chronic pain, muscle spasms, insomnia, anxiety, and more.