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Former U.S. Surgeon General: 'I very much support medical marijuana'

Former US Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders was on Thursday's KATV Facebook Your Voice, Your Future Roundtable Discussion talking about medical marijuana, expressing her support for the issue. (Photo: KATV)

Former US Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders went on record on Thursday saying she fully supports medical marijuana and “has for years.” Elders made the comments during a KATV Your Voice, Your Future roundtable discussion on medical marijuana.

“I very much support medical marijuana for treating patients, I’ve supported it for years,” said Dr. Elders, US Surgeon General under part of the Clinton presidential administration.

The 83 year-old Arkansas-born pediatrician also said she supports the smoking of marijuana for medical patients saying, “it’s the best way for it to get to the neurotransmitters in the brain.”

Elders fell short of officially endorsing either of the two medical marijuana proposal up for a vote in the general election, Issues 6 & 7.

“I’m not getting into the politics of this drug,” said Elders. “I’m here as a public health person.”

The first African-American US Surgeon General’s comments fly in the face of other public health officials’ positions - many who have come out against Issues 6 & 7. Arkansas Surgeon General, Dr. Greg Bledsoe told KATV anchor Chris May, he is all in favor of getting patients the help they need but said the two medical marijuana proposals are laced in their safety measures.

“I’ve said from the beginning that I do think that there’s medicinal value to the compounds within the plant,” said Bledsoe. “But the important thing is that we need to do this in a responsible way.”

Bledsoe said the responsible way to address medical marijuana is to isolate the beneficial compounds of marijuana and put them into pill form. The state Surgeon General said there has to be solid research to back up what doctors do to treat their patients.

Safety was also a concern for Bledsoe, talking about the availability marijuana-laced candies that would be for sale at marijuana dispensaries if either medical marijuana proposals pass in the November election.

Elders argued that marijuana has “never killed anybody,” and said that “aspirin has killed more people.”

“We used lots of other drugs that are far more toxic, far more toxic for the patient,” responded Elders.

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