One of my favorite West Wing episodes is “Ellie”. There are three parts I love. The gist of the episode is that the surgeon general, a personal friend of the President’s family, makes some claims about marijuana on a radio show that are absolutely true, but go against the POT IS EVIL AND NEVER TALK ABOUT IT AND GO TO JAIL FOR IT line that’s often played in DC. The President’s middle daughter, Ellie, says to a reporter that President Bartlet would never fire the surgeon general for that. There are three things I love in this episode. The first is when Bartlet decides not to ask for the surgeon general’s resignation, which prompts this exchange:
JOSH: You know, it’s going to seem to some people like you did it ’cause your daughter asked you to.
BARTLET: You know, Josh, I think if you ever have a daughter, you’re going to discover there are worse reasons in the world to do something.
I didn’t have a daughter then. I do now. And I stand by this.
The second occurs right at the end. The setup is that earlier in the episode, Ellie, who does not have as close a relationship to her father as her sisters do, declared that she doesn’t know how to make her Dad happy – that’s what Zoey and Elizabeth are good at. But as she and the President are watching a movie together with others as the episode closes, he says quietly to her:
BARTLET: The only thing you ever had to do to make me happy was come home at the end of the day.
And then Ellie (and I) start to cry. Hold on… there something in my eye. I’ll be back in a second…
My final favorite bit is this. When Ellie said her father would never fire the surgeon general for her comments, Bartlet’s response was this:
BARTLET: But the truth is, it’s the nicest thing she’s ever said about me.
That’s cause what the surgeon general said was the truth. And we don’t fire people in science and medicine for telling the truth.
I bring all of this up because our actual surgeon general said things that were true about marijuana last week:
Dr. Vivek Murthy, the nation’s new surgeon general, says that marijuana “can be helpful” for some medical conditions, and wants science to dictate policy on the federally banned substance.
“We have some preliminary data that for certain medical conditions and symptoms, that marijuana can be helpful,” Murthy said during a Wednesday interview on “CBS This Morning” in response to a question about his stance on marijuana legalization.
While Murthy didn’t take the opportunity to endorse legalization of marijuana for medical or recreational purposes, he did add that he believes U.S. marijuana policy should be driven by science and what it reveals about the efficacy of using the plant for medical purposes.
“I think we’re going to get a lot more data about that,” Murthy said. “I’m very interested to see where that takes us.”
Did the rest of the administration go crazy? Ask for his resignation? Nope. They pretty much did nothing but support him. Ellie and her father would be proud.