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Surgeon general: No ‘value’ to locking people up over marijuana use

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Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Sunday said he does not think there is “value” to incarcerating people for marijuana use, as the Senate considers a bill to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.

“When it comes to decriminalization, I don’t think that there is value to individuals or to society to lock people up for marijuana use. I don’t think that serves anybody well,” Murthy told host Dana Bash on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“I do think that, in terms of our approach to marijuana, I worry when we don’t let science guide our process in policy-making,” he added.

Senate Democrats last week unveiled a proposal to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. It would also expunge federal convictions for nonviolent marijuana crimes, allow those imprisoned for marijuana to petition their sentencing, take marijuana off the federal list of controlled substances and create a tax system for the substance.

When asked on Sunday if he supports the initiative from a health perspective, Murthy emphasized that when discussing marijuana, “we have to let science guide us.”

He also said there are some benefits to the substance, based on science, while noting “some harms we have to consider.”

“And we have to put those together as we think about the right policy,” he added.

Murthy also said that his job as surgeon general is to “work with policy-makers, to work with members in the community and the general public to help people understand what science tells us and, where you have gaps, to help fill those gaps with research and with honest inquiry.”

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