CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta did more than walk back his previous opposition to medical marijuana. He apologized, and said that the American people are being systematically misled on the medical value of pot.
Gupta, who will be debuting a CNN documentary on medical marijuana on Sunday, wrote:
Long before I began this project, I had steadily reviewed the scientific literature on medical marijuana from the United States and thought it was fairly unimpressive. Reading these papers five years ago, it was hard to make a case for medicinal marijuana. I even wrote about this in a TIME magazine article, back in 2009, titled “Why I would Vote No on Pot.”
Well, I am here to apologize.
I apologize because I didn’t look hard enough, until now. 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.
Instead, I lumped them with the high-visibility malingerers, just looking to get high. I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof. Surely, they must have quality reasoning as to why marijuana is in the category of the most dangerous drugs that have “no accepted medicinal use and a high potential for abuse.”
They didn’t have the science to support that claim, and I now know that when it comes to marijuana neither of those things are true. It doesn’t have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications. In fact, sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works.
We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that.
Medical facts of Marijuana
I hope this article and upcoming documentary will help set the record straight.
Misinformation not only in the public at large, but also within the medical community is a big problem for advocates of medical marijuana. Decades of misinformation and flat out propaganda can’t be undone in a few years. It is going to take time for the medical use of marijuana to become accepted. This process would occur faster if more medical professionals had accurate information.
Pharmaceutical companies are one of the top five industries lobbying to keep marijuana illegal, because they don’t want the cheaper and natural competition for their products. As we recently saw when the Brickyard 400 pulled a pro-marijuana ad, alcohol and tobacco companies are also lobbying hard to keep marijuana illegal. Just like Big Phrama, alcohol and tobacco are trying to keep the cheaper and less dangerous alternative to their products out of the marketplace.
Gupta’s apology and high profile documentary on a mainstream media outlet are a big step forward for the legalization movement. Medical and recreational legalization go hand in hand. If marijuana were to become an accepted and legal medical treatment, it would only be matter of time until nationwide legalization occurred.
Someday we may look back on Gupta’s apology as one of the one of the turning points in the nationwide pro-legalization movement.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association