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Sensi Magazine

Former US Surgeon General Endorses Cannabis – Again

Oct 22, 2016 04:58PM ● By Randy Robinson

Dr. Joycelyn Elders, 1993

If you know about Dr. Joycelyn Elders, then you know her support for medical marijuana is nothing new.

In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed her as surgeon general of the United States, making her the first black woman to hold the position. While surgeon general, she requested a federal study into the legalization of drugs to reduce crime and alleviate poverty. She doubled down in 2010, when she specifically endorsed cannabis legalization from a social justice perspective. 

On Oct. 20, Elders once again reaffirmed her position. During a round table discussion on a Little Rock, AR news show, she said, "I very much support medical marijuana for treating patients, I've supported it for years."

"I'm not getting into the politics of this drug," she added. "I'm here as a public health person."

When Elders first suggested legalizing marijuana back in the 1990s, she drew ire from conservatives–and from Bill Clinton's own administration. At the time, Clinton adopted a policy of being "tough on crime," which focused on draconian drug laws and harsh sentences for federal offenders. 

Although she wasn't popular in the '90s, time has proven Dr. Elders right. States that have decriminalized or legalized marijuana experience drops in violent crime rates. Legalization has also brought unexpected public health effects, such as fewer people taking addictive opioid painkillers, and fewer employees taking sick days off work.

Full Video of Dr. Elders's Round Table Discussion at KATV, Little Rock