TV tonight: CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta doubles down on medical marijuana

CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2014–It is not very often that a well known news and medical correspondent for a major network admits he was wrong. But tonight on CNN, Dr. Sanjay Gupta does just that on “Weed 2: Cannabis Madness.”

On the CNN website Gupta stated, “It’s been eight months since I last wrote about medical marijuana, apologizing for having not dug deeply into the beneficial effects of this plant and for writing articles dismissing its potential. I apologized for my own role in previously misleading people, and I feel very badly that people have suffered for too long, unable to obtain the legitimate medicine that may have helped them.”

“It is not easy to apologize and take your lumps, but this was never about me.”

Not only has Gupta apologized for discounting the benefits of medical marijuana, he has doubled down on his advocacy for a concerted effort by the scientific community to dismiss the archaic notions associated with marijuana and increase the research into its possible medical applications.

One of the most prohibitive aspects of expanding the research of medical marijuana is its current federal classification as a schedule I substance. This classification defines it as one of the most dangerous drugs with no currently acceptable medical use.

According to the “Controlled Substances Act” signed into law in 1970:

Along with marijuana, current illegal substances listed in the group of schedule I drugs include heroin, morphine, mescaline, LSD and ecstasy.

Schedule II drugs, defined as drugs with a potential for abuse but less dangerous than Schedule I drugs include methamphetamine, methadone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (OxyContin), and cocaine.

Although all of the drugs listed as Schedule I and Schedule II drugs are responsible for the demise of countless lives and an ever increasing number of deadly overdoses, there is not one single documented incident of an overdose of marijuana. Although a person dies every 19 minutes in this country from a legal prescription drug overdose, marijuana is still considered more dangerous than any drug legally dispensed by the medical profession.

 Every administration since 1970 has refused to reclassify marijuana despite the decision of a growing number of states to make medical marijuana available to its residents. These states acknowledge that the medical applications of marijuana are too extensive to ignore and have passed laws that conflict with current federal laws that still consider marijuana illegal to possess under any circumstances.

Dr. Gupta reversed his position on marijuana for the simplest and most compelling reason that any doctor with a genuine desire to help his patients can have; he has seen too many cases where the use of medical marijuana has eased the suffering and improved the quality of life of those prescribed its treatment.

Among the uses of medical marijuana are the reduction of the nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite caused by the ailment itself and by various AIDS medications.

Medical marijuana also reduces the interlobular pressure that facilitates the alleviation of the pain, as well as slowing, if not completely stopping the progress of Glaucoma. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. It damages vision by increasing eye pressure over time.

Marijuana stimulates appetite and alleviates the nausea and vomiting which are common side effects of chemotherapy treatment for cancer.

Another benefit is limiting the muscle pain and spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis, as well as relieving the tremor and unsteadiness of gait associated with the disease. Multiple sclerosis is the leading cause of neurological disability among young and middle-aged adults in the United States.

For some epileptic patients, medical marijuana prevents seizures.

Marijuana alleviates the chronic, often debilitating pain caused by myriad disorders and injuries.

Many patients also report that marijuana is useful for treating arthritis, migraines, menstrual cramps, alcohol and opiate addiction, depression and other debilitating mood disorders.

For those who dismiss these benefits as nothing more than propaganda, tonight Dr. Gupta not only dispels this myth, he introduces us to people who have had their lives changed by the use of medical marijuana.

Just in case you still doubt the potential for medical applications of marijuana, consider the following; the United States already holds a patent, (#6,630,507) on medical marijuana. This patent acknowledges that cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.

So why does the federal government hold a patent on a naturally occurring substance with medical applications that it acknowledges but legally defines as a substance with no current acceptable medical use? As in most things in America, the truth may well be found by following the money trail.

Drug companies have spent $2.3 billion on lobbying and $183 million on campaign contributions since 1998, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. It does not take a genius to realize that any drug that would replace so many of the legal but increasingly harmful drugs currently prescribed by the medical profession would have a devastating effect on the profits of the pharmaceutical industry.

Nor does it take a genius to realize that without the continued support of drug manufacturers, many candidates would be challenged to finance successful campaigns. Until our elected leaders put the benefits of its constituents above their own selfish needs, only a massive grass roots effort demanding the acceptance of the many benefits of medical marijuana will make it available to the millions of people it has the potential to help.

“Weed 2: Cannabis Madness” airs tonight at 10 p.m. on CNN

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I was born and educated in Southwest Virginia, traveled with my job all over America in my twenties and early thirties then came back to the mountains to raise my daughter. I’ve been employed as everything from a quality control technician in industrial construction, to a mail processing plant manager, to postmaster of a small town. I’ve been to forty nine of the fifty states, as well as many other countries. Traveling will always be a passion I indulge, and something I’ll call upon often in my writing. I come from a long line of story tellers, and will shamelessly exploit a family tree resplendent with colorful and unique characters, both past and present. In short my perspective will reflect the pride and familiarity I have of my Appalachian heritage. My stories will be a reflection of the values I believe we hold dearest here, all embellished with a healthy dose of Southern Appalachian flare.
  • Thorne Anderson

    I won’t debate the usefulness of marijuana use for alleviating pain in dying patients, or decreasing eye pressures in glaucoma. However, I am very concerned about the legal use of marijuana by any citizen (i.e. Colorado) and the long term effects on their lungs since one marijuana cigarette is equal to smoking 20 regular cigarettes. We all know who has been paying for the harmful effects of smoking long term with regular cigarettes- lung and throat cancer and emphysema. Dr. Gupta needs to stick to neurosurgery. I wonder if he practices anymore or just does op-ed pieces for CNN.

    • LIsa

      Since there are other ways than smoking it available to ingest marijuana for its many medicinal benefits, the point is basically moot.

      • alex

        I understand you concerns, but here are not mentioning about smoking, they mentioned to extracting oils. It seems that already in England are producing a medicine from cannabis that its very successful for treating MS.

    • WokOnWater

      So your argument is based on the fact that smoking is bad? Excuse me for pointing out the fact that cannabis EDIBLES are often preferred for that very reason. For goodness sake, don’t try to engage in an important discussion if you don’t even know how marijuana is consumed.

    • Youssef Ismail