In a new documentary titled “Weed”, chief medical correspondent for CNN, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, reevaluates his thoughts on marijuana and touches on the topics of its medical use, abuse, and legal status. As a former opponent to the medical use of marijuana, Dr. Gupta has written an article for TIME magazine in 2009 titled “Why I would Vote No on Pot”, which was largely due to the lack of compelling evidence in the studies he read. However, upon researching studies from other countries that shows its beneficial effects for legitimate patients, he began having a change in opinion and offers a formal apology on the documentary.
His opposing opinion that he held in the past was largely due to malingers, abusers, and the legal status of marijuana, which is classified as Schedule 1 (no accepted medical use and high potential for abuse). Despite having these views, Dr. Gupta met a patient named Charlotte Figi from Colorado, who suffered from having about 300 seizures a week. After using medical marijuana, her seizures were reduced to a mere 2 or 3 times a month. He says that, after spending time with patients that were prescribed medical marijuana, he realized that the physicians did so in order to provide them responsible and effective medical care.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta also examines another major controversy surrounding the drug—its high risk of abuse. He states that previous studies have shown that it does not lead to the medical definition of addiction, nor does it provide a “gateway” to becoming addicted to other drugs, such as morphine, heroin, or cocaine. It can, however, lead to dependence, which occurs with 9 to 10% of adult users, but in comparison to the Schedule 2 drug cocaine (which is classified as having less potential for abuse than Schedule 1 drugs), 20% of users become addicted. Dr. Gupta also further explains that great responsibility comes with legalizing it—just as alcohol has an age restriction, so should marijuana (for which recreational use among younger people has led to its stigma).
The documentary goes on to further discuss these topics, as well as challenges in medical research. You can watch the premier of his documentary on August 11, 8pm Eastern time on CNN.
What are your thoughts about legalizing marijuana for medical use?
Gupta, S. (2013, August 8). Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Why I changed my mind on weed – CNN.com. CNN. Retrieved August 9, 2013, from http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/08/health/gupta-changed-mind-marijuana/index.html