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Former FDA Head Scott Gottlieb on Marijuana Legalization and Viable Reasons to Decriminalize

Becky Oberg

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Former FDA Head Scott Gottlieb on Marijuana Legalization and Viable Reasons to Decriminalize
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Former head of the Food and Drug Administration Scott Gottlieb appeared on C-Span for an interview recently. Reportedly, he has taken the position that decriminalizing marijuana should be a consideration, along with creating a federal regulatory framework to “standardize” cannabis markets at the state level. Nonetheless, he does not support legalization on a full scale.

However, he highlighted that there is a difference between legalization and decriminalization, and that he supports the latter. This position became clear when one viewer of the C-Span interview from Washington called in and shared with Gottlieb that legalization was working well for the state and it was a good alternative than incarcerating people for using marijuana. To Gottlieb, the comment highlighted the importance of differentiating between legalization and decriminalization.

He stated,

“I do think that we’re conducting a very large and potentially unfortunate national experiment in this country by making THC and marijuana so widely available, particularly seeing the rapid rise in youth use of THC.”

He continued,

“There are going to be long-term effects from that on developing brains, seeing so many kids now using THC because of the legalization of these products and the retraction of any stigma associated with the use of these products.”

Gottlieb also added that decriminalization could be looked at because there are “valid reasons” for doing so from a “public policy standpoint.” He added, “The discussion should be separate from legalization, particularly around recreational use.”

He further shared,

“Two things: one, I think we ought to look at decriminalizing it. People are arrested for possession of marijuana and face sentences that are oftentimes in excess of what they would receive for offenses that I think are far more significant and serious. You do see too many people I think developing significant criminal records for small possession charges of marijuana.”

He also shared his concerns about the permissive nature of many states’ laws concerning marijuana.

He stated in the interview,

“We’ve seen so many states move forward with different laws, many of which I believe are far too permissive from a public health standpoint in terms of making THC available to young people and making it available too widely that we’re going to want to have a federal regime that probably standardizes this and maybe puts in place more stringent safeguards around keeping these kinds of products out of the hands of particularly kids, where you have the biggest public health concerns and the biggest concerns around long-term implications of THC use.”

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