Speaking on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Scott Gottlieb was forthcoming about the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) potential support for scientific research into cannabis and expressed support for decriminalization.
Gottlieb explained that the FDA has approved synthetic versions of cannabinoids as well as pharmaceutical derivatives of marijuana, while pointing out that such products are preferable to consuming the cannabis plant for medical purposes.
Asked whether alcohol is more, less or as harmful as cannabis, Gottlieb balked and said he didn’t believe that such comparisons were appropriate because recreational “use patterns” between them are different.
When the subject of federal marijuana laws came up, Gottlieb noted that there was a “very big difference” between legalization and decriminalization.
“We could decriminalize the use of certain substances and the possession of certain substances and not move toward legalization and promotion of use,” he said.
“Though not exactly a ringing endorsement of decriminalization,” pointed out Marijuana Moment, “the statement represents a departure from the standard federal talking points on marijuana, which remains criminalized under federal law for any use despite the growing number of states that are moving to allow it for medical or recreational use.”
Gottlieb said the FDA had intended to continue examining claims about marijuana’s therapeutic benefits.
Recently the FDA approved the first cannabis-derived medication, Epidiolex, known to significantly reduce seizures caused by two rare forms of epilepsy that begin in childhood: Dravet Syndrome (DS) and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS).
At the same time, the FDA has sent letters to manufacturers of CBD, warning them not not to make medical claims about their products without FDA approval.
“Substances that contain components of marijuana will be treated like any other products that make unproven claims to shrink cancer tumors,” Gottlieb said about the FDA letters.
“We don’t let companies market products that deliberately prey on sick people with baseless claims that their substance can shrink or cure cancer and we’re not going to look the other way on enforcing these principles when it comes to marijuana-containing products.”