The director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy wants to make it clear that teen use of marijuana shouldn’t deter politicians and researchers from exploring the drug’s medical potential.
During a recorded interview with The Washington Post, Dr. Rahul Gupta spoke plainly about two of the most pressing issues with marijuana: its medical capabilities and its impact on the developing brain. “We know that there’s data behind supporting medical uses for cannabis. We also know that there’s plenty of evidence that, when we talk about children and the growing brain, the use of marijuana does impact negatively the areas of their emotions and learning,” he said.
Gupta said any substance in the growing brain isn’t good, but that “it doesn’t “nullify the medical benefits that have been documented in science.” He concluded that a lot of science is developing and that there’s been a lot of bans that have prevented researchers from doing a thorough job of studying it.
Earlier in the interview, WP associate editor, Jonathan Capehart, and Gupta talked about Biden’s marijuana pardon and the possible descheduling of the drug. “When do you expect that review to be done?” asked Capehart.
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“It will be done expeditiously because the president has asked for it,” said Gupta. “What the president has announced is historic in nature. No one before in the history of the United States has made those proclamations.” Gupta also highlighted the fact that Biden called on governors of states to follow his example, since their decisions will likely affect the bulk of the cases Biden pardoned.
“Is this the first step to decriminalization?” asked Capehart.
“Well, this is certainly a step that the president believes deeply in. He believes that people should not be arrested or convicted for sole possession or use of marijuana,” Dr. Gupta said, sharing some stats on marijuana arrests that occur on a yearly basis. He said that Black Americans have nearly four times more arrests when compared to white Americans.
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“When you have that ding on your record, you can’t get public housing, you can get government loans, you can’t get employment,” said Gupta. He concludes that looking beyond policy, Biden’s approach will change lives.