Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, has reversed his position on medical marijuana, now saying the plant “doesn’t have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications.”
Back in 2009, Gupta had written a piece for Time magazine titled “Why I would Vote No on Pot.” Then, he now says, he accepted the federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s position that pot should be classified as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it was dangerous and has no medical value.
But after traveling around the world, interviewing medical experts, growers and patients, Gupta says that he was stunned by what he found: “We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that.”
Gupta was especially moved by stories of children with epilepsy for whom marijuana — taken in a gooey, concentrated form — has been the only effective treatment to stop frequent convulsions.
“Take the case of Charlotte Figi, who I met in Colorado,” Gupta writes. “She started having seizures soon after birth. By age 3, she was having 300 a week, despite being on seven different medications. Medical marijuana has calmed her brain, limiting her seizures to 2 or 3 per month.”
You can see a remarkable Washington Post story about Figi and other children treated with marijuana here.
Gupta will air his changed views in a CNN documentary Sunday at 5 p.m.
One of the nation’s leading medical-marijuana groups, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), will host a Google Hangout after the program, featuring some of the key players in the documentary.
The public is invited to join the discussion by logging into the ASA YouTube page.
“Unfortunately, the average American hears more politically charged rhetoric on marijuana than they do about the amazing quality-of-life improvements patients are experiencing,” said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer, who will be facilitating the Google Hangout on Sunday.