‘No such thing as medical marijuana,’ Health Secretary says at Dayton-area visit

As Ohio prepares to launch its medical marijuana program by issuing licenses to cultivators, processors and dispensers, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in Kettering today, “There really is no such thing as medical marijuana.”

The statement came during a press conference on opioids at Brigid’s Path, an inpatient facility that treats newborns suffering from prenatal drug exposure.

RELATED: Health Secretary to Miami Valley: ‘You are not alone’ in opioid fight’

He went on to say, “There is no FDA approved use of marijuana, a botanical plant. I just want to be very clear about that.”

Azar was responding to a question from the Yellow Springs News about what role he sees medical marijuana playing as an alternative to opioids for pain relief.

Cresco Labs Ohio LLC has secured a state license to build a medical marijuana cultivation facility in Yellow Springs.

The federal government is focused on the development of pharmaceutical alternatives to opioids, Azar said, and does not recognize marijuana as approved pain treatment.

RELATED: Ohio awards 12 large-scale marijuana grower licenses

“We are devoting hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars of research at our National Institutes of Health as part of the historic $13 billion opioid and serious mental illness program that the President and Congress are funding,” he said.

“Over $750 million just in 2019 alone is going to be dedicated towards the National Institutes of Health working in public-private partnership to try and develop the next generation of pain therapies that are not opioids.”

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