A great reflection of the changing perspective of society is the opinion of the surgeon general. In that light, the potential for marijuana to be legalized at a federal level may be closer than many believe it to be.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams showed support for reclassifying marijuana’s status as a Schedule 1 drug during a visit to Massachusetts on Dec. 6. He shared his opinion that research is hindered by the current laws and therapeutic use of marijuana may have greater potential if marijuana is legalized.

Adams was part of a question-and-answer session at a conference focused on police-assisted recovery from drug addiction.

Adams feels the scheduling system itself is somewhat outdated, and it can be a hindrance when it comes to the potential benefits of different medications. He singled out marijuana, noting the efforts to research benefits of marijuana are greatly hindered by the fact that the drug remains a Schedule 1 drug.

Adams also supports programs that focus on risk reduction, like syringe exchange programs to reduce the risk of HIV. He has expressed doubts on the efficacy of drug programs where marijuana is used as an exit drug from opioid addiction. However, the support of further research shows he is not completely opposed to similar ideas.

As 2018 draws to a close, 10 states have legalized recreational use of marijuana, along with the District of Columbia, and 32 states have legislation in place for the use of marijuana as a medical treatment. Projections for 2019 show that as many as eight additional states could have legislation on the books regarding marijuana as 2020 nears.

Those states include Connecticut, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Vermont. For Connecticut, Minnesota, and New Mexico, a changing of administration is the main incentive for the potential in new marijuana legislation. All three incoming governors shared their belief that marijuana legislation is necessary.

For Illinois, the governor and speaker both have vocalized support of legalization and a recent study showed the positive benefits of such a move, including job creation and potential revenue.

Marijuana legislation for New Jersey is finalized, with a vote slated for January. Rhode Island’s governor has changed her perspective on marijuana legalization, sharing an opinion that it may be somewhat forced by the fact neighbouring states have already legalized. Meanwhile, Vermont has already taken steps towards legalization, by making small amounts of marijuana legal for both possession and cultivation.