CNN's chief medical correspondent, neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta, had previously been one of medical marijuana's most staunch critics. Dr. Gupta now says that he often discredited medicinal uses for the drug because he had seen more evidence of negative outcomes of patients using it than he saw positive ones.
Now, Dr. Gupta is retracting those previous statements, saying, "We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that."
Well played, Dr. Gupta. One of the first thoughts that come to mind (at least for us cynics) is that Dr. Gupta has merely political reasons for now changing his stance in support of medical marijuana; however, delving deeper into his research leaves one thinking that he just may have changed his opinion because he is a good, true physician - listening to patients and actually hearing what they are saying.
Dr. Gupta (by his own admission) had previously based all of his thoughts on the subject on large-scale American research. He cited these findings as "unimpressive," in the way of support for medicinal marijuana. However, after doing studies on research in other countries, as well as some smaller American clinics, he did a complete 180 on the subject. While shooting a CNN documentary, "Weed," on medical marijuana, he was able to talk to physicians, as well as patients, who had seen no relief from ailments until they prescribed (or began) a medical marijuana regimen.
Dr. Gupta first began to change his mind after meeting with the family of a little girl whose severe epilepsy has all but vanished from the use of medical marijuana. Charlotte Figi, at age 3, began having such debilitating seizures that she sometimes experienced more than 300 in a single month. By the time her desperate family began her on a medical marijuana regimen, she was on seven different medications to prevent the epileptic seizures that were still plaguing her. After trading her various medications for marijuana, Charlotte's seizures decreased to less than three a month.
Obviously, that is some serious evidence.
Charlotte's case is only one out of many that Dr. Gupta saw first hand while doing research, visiting patients and clinics from all over.
He also says now that he was almost entirely basing his decision and opinion on the fact that marijuana is classified as a schedule 1 substance here in the U.S., which means it is categorized as being one of the most dangerous and often-abused drugs around. Dr. Gupta now believes that this an old-fashioned and outdated notion, and that the substance is neither dangerous or overly abused.
A poll done by the Pew Research Center in March 2013 had some astounding findings to report: 52% of Americans now say that they believe marijuana should be legalized. What's more, 72% would agree that the enforcement of laws prohibiting marijuana use do more harm than good, "costing more than they are worth." And lastly, maybe the most surprising, is that nearly 3 out of 4 Americans (yes, as in, 75%!) would agree that marijuana have real, justifiable reasons for being used (medicinally.)
I'm not sure about any of you, but I was astounded at these figures and thoroughly impressed with Dr. Gupta by the end of my research, for his thorough and discerning inquiry into the subject, as well as his public retraction of his previous opinion.
For all of the suffering patients out there, I truly hope that Dr. Gupta's knowledgeable voice will garner a new look and perspective on the subject by our government officials and lawmakers. Perhaps medicinal marijuana being legalized in all states would be a medical miracle; anyone can agree that there is more suffering in America (possibly the greatest nation in the world) than there needs to be, especially if we already have one antidote that could relieve many.