Government Has Misled Americans on Medical Marijuana, Says Dr. Sanjay Gupta

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Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Source: Hamilton Nolan, “New Surgeon General: Dr. Sanjay Gupta,” gawker.com, Jan. 6, 2009
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, has changed his mind and now supports medical marijuana. His shift from con to pro came with a lengthy apology. 

“We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that,” said Gupta in his CNN article titled “Why I Changed My Mind on Weed.” He adds, “I didn’t look far enough. I didn’t review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis.”

Gupta, an Emory University neurosurgeon who was considered for US Surgeon General in 2009, had written an op-ed in TIME magazine on Jan. 8, 2009 titled “Why I Would Vote No on Pot,” in which he outlined his case against medical marijuana. In it, he claimed to have “steadily reviewed the scientific literature on medical marijuana” and found it lacking. Gupta now says marijuana “doesn’t have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications. In fact, marijuana is sometimes the only thing that works.”

He added that marijuana has a lower potential for addiction compared to tobacco or cocaine, and reiterated his concerns about marijuana’s effect on the brains of developing adolescents.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in a statement opposing medical marijuana, said: “There is currently sound evidence that smoked marijuana is harmful. A past evaluation by several Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA), concluded that no sound scientific studies supported medical use of marijuana for treatment in the United States, and no animal or human data supported the safety or efficacy of marijuana for general medical use.”

Medical marijuana is currently legal in 20 states and the District of Columbia. As of Aug. 1, 2013, four states (Minnesota, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) have pending legislation to legalize medical marijuana.

Sources:

Michelle Castillo, “Bloomberg: Medical Marijuana One of ‘Great Hoaxes of All Time,'” cbsnews.com, June 3, 2013

Patrick Kevin Day, “CNN’s Dr. Sanjay  Gupta Goes Pro-Pot for ‘Weed’ Doc,” latimes.com, Aug. 8, 2013

Sanjay Gupta, “Health: Why I Would Vote No on Pot,” time.com, Jan. 8, 2009

Sanjay Gupta, “Why I Changed My Mind on Weed,” cnn.com, Aug. 8, 2013