Last week U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar stated that “there really is no such thing as medical marijuana” in a press conference on the topic of opioids. This comment drew immediate backslash from the medical marijuana community, who were quick to point out the absurdity of such a statement. However, Mr. Azar’s comments highlight the fundamental disconnect between federal marijuana laws, the federal government’s own involvement in medical marijuana, and the majority of state laws with regard to medical marijuana.

Knowing Falsehood

Mr. Azar went on to qualify his statement with, “there is no FDA approved use of marijuana, a botanical plant. I just want to be very clear about that.” While this comment is technically true, the basis for it is not. Marijuana was, for centuries, a common medicine used in American medicine. Up until 1947 the American pharmacopoeia still listed marijuana as medicine.

What’s more, Marinol, a synthetic analogy to THC, has been a FDA-approved medicine to treat several conditions since 1986. Further, in late 2017 Epidiolex, a synthetic CBD-based analog was approved by the FDA for medical use. These two drugs, analogous to the primary active ingredients in marijuana are approved for medical use and do have medical efficacy. While Mr. Azar is technically right that there is no FDA approved use of marijuana proper, in practice, the primary ingredients in marijuana are both FDA-approved for medical use. This seeming inconsistency from the FDA, and the federal government more generally, further highlight the absurd doublespeak inherent in how the federal government approaches medical marijuana.

Systematic Misrepresentation

Beyond clearly inconsistent positions as to the medical efficacy of marijuana, the federal government further highlights its own inconsistency with a series of patents it holds on medical marijuana. The most well-known federal patent on the medical aspects

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