Surgeon general: Medical marijuana 'can be helpful'

The nation’s top doctor on Wednesday suggested an openness to wider use of medical marijuana, saying the drug might offer some medical benefits.

"We have some preliminary data showing that for certain medical conditions and symptoms that marijuana can be helpful,” Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told “CBS This Morning.”

"So I think we have to use that data to drive policymaking, and I’m very interested to see where that data takes us,” he added.

His comments follow President Obama’s remark last year that marijuana is not “more dangerous than alcohol.

“As has been well-documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life,” Obama told The New Yorker magazine. “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”

More recently, a number of Republican lawmakers have also admitted to smoking pot.

Murthy, who took over as surgeon general in December, appears to be softening his position on medical marijuana.

During his Senate confirmation hearing a year ago, Murthy told lawmakers, “Just like other drugs, I don’t recommend marijuana, and I don’t think it’s a good habit to use marijuana. If I had kids, I would tell them not to use it.”

Still, Murthy called for more research to “see what the science tells us.” 

Marijuana advocates hope to use Murthy's remarks to pressure the Justice Department into rescheduling marijuana so more studies can be done.

"My position is we have to see what the science tells us about the efficacy of marijuana, and I think we’re going to get a lot more data on that,” Murthy said.