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Surgeon general says medical marijuana 'can be helpful'

President Barack Obama nominated Vivek Murthy

WASHINGTON, D.C. Vivek Murthy, the nation's new surgeon general, said medical marijuana can be helpful.

The 37-year-old physician, of Indian descent, was born in Huddersfield, England, and grew up in South Miami-Dade's Pinecrest neighborhood. His father and sister have medical practices near Baptist Hospital in Kendall. 

"We have some preliminary data showing that for certain medical conditions and symptoms, marijuana can be helpful," Murthy, 37, said during an interview Wednesday.

Murthy added that there need to be more studies to determine its potential for treating some disease. He also said he hopes lawmakers will use that data to drive policy making.

"I'm interested to see where that data takes us," Murthy said.

During the confirmation hearings, he told senators that he didn't recommend marijuana.

"I don't think it's a good habit to use marijuana," Murthy said about recreational use. "If I had kids, I would tell them not to use it."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved marijuana as a safe or effective drug.

In Florida, a constitutional amendment to allow medical marijuana gained 58 percent of the vote in 2014, but did not pass. The amendment requires 60 percent of voters' approval to pass.

United for Care launched a similar constitutional amendment campaign for 2016. And a new poll from Gravis Marketing found that 64 percent of Florida voters are ready to approve an amendment to get medical marijuana on the 2016 ballot.