You may have already heard by now that CNN celebrity physician and President Obama's 2009 candidate for surgeon general Dr. Sanjay Gupta has had a major revelation on the therapeutic value of cannabis (marijuana). For years, Dr. Gupta held a stringent line on medical cannabis even writing a TIME magazine article, back in 2009, titled "Why I would Vote No on Pot."
So why did he change his mind after only four years? In anticipation of his upcoming documentary WEED on medical cannabis -- set to air this Sunday at 8 p.m. on CNN -- Dr. Gupta says his research for the documentary brought him around.
"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. We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that."
Thank you, Dr. Gupta! I have read his statements over and over again and listened to all of his interviews in a dream like state... As medical cannabis advocate, I don't hear many apologies.
Although it might appear that Dr. Gupta's revelation occurred overnight, it's more likely that Dr. Gupta came to his realization after recognizing in one-on-one conversations how medical cannabis has helped countless patients deal with debilitating health conditions. Indeed, it's this type of anecdotal evidence that is most compelling in convincing people of marijuana's medical efficacy.
Unfortunately, the average American hears more politically-charged rhetoric on marijuana than they hear about the amazing recovery and quality of life improvements patients are experiencing with cannabis. I hear stories every day about patients reducing their regimen of pain pills, gaining the ability to keep down food after chemotherapy treatment, or overcoming epileptic seizures with a single dose of cannabis. However, despite strong popular support for medical marijuana -- 85 percent -- among the vast majority of Americans, most people are unaware of these success stories.
But why should the American people and doctors be forced to question their very own government. In Dr. Gupta's apology he went on to say:
"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 medical 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".
It's no mistake that Dr. Gupta, a neurosurgeon by profession and one-time candidate for U.S. Surgeon General, has radically changed his position on medical cannabis. This is commonly what happens when people take the time to wade through the political rhetoric and misinformation, and can finally see the overwhelming evidence that exists all around them, evidence that manifests in startling ways every single day.
What sets Dr. Gupta apart from most Americans, besides his notoriety, is his willingness to speak out about what he calls the federal government's "hypocrisy" on medical cannabis. It's these types of declarations that increase pressure on the Obama Administration and which contain the hope that all patients will one day be able to benefit from this important therapy. Notably, Dr. Gupta is calling on the federal government to reconsider its outdated policy, to abandon the aggressive law enforcement tactics of the Justice Department, and begin to develop a sensible public health approach to medical cannabis. And we couldn't agree more!
Obama once wanted Dr. Gupta as the nations top medical advisor. I am hopeful that he can hear from Dr. Gupta what over 1 million legal medical cannabis patients have been expressing for the last 4 ½ years. I am hopeful that Congress will hear this message and stop funding the war on medical cannabis patients. Or put the Medical Marijuana Patient Projection Act (HR 689) on Obama's desk so as a nation we can move forward.
After you watch Dr. Sanjay Gupta's piece on Sunday, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is hosting a Google Hangout after the CNN documentary at 9:15 p.m. ET to further discuss the issues raised by Dr. Gupta. The Google Hangout will feature some of the guests in the documentary as well as experts in the medical cannabis field. Please watch the Hangout live on ASA's YouTube Channel. You will be able to submit questions to the guests and learn more about how we can move medical cannabis out of the back alleys of many states and into the capable hands of doctors across America. You can also learn how ASA's Peace for Patients campaign is trying to roll back the federal enforcement attacks by bringing about a policy change in Congress.