Dr. Sanjay Gupta: I am doubling down on medical marijuana
Gupta: ‘I am doubling down’ on medical marijuana – CNN.com
March 6, 2014_CNN — 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.
… This scientific journey is about a growing number of patients who want the cannabis plant as a genuine medicine, not to get high.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta is a practicing neurosurgeon and CNN’s chief medical correspondent. It is about emerging science that not only shows and proves what
marijuana can do for the body but provides better insights into the mechanisms of marijuana in the brain, helping us better understand a plant whose benefits have been documented for thousands of years. This journey is also about a Draconian system where politics overrides science and patients are caught in the middle.
Since our documentary “Weed” aired in August, I have continued to travel the world, investigating and asking tough questions about marijuana. I have met with hundreds of patients, dozens of scientists and the curious majority who simply want a deeper understanding of this ancient plant. I have sat in labs and personally analyzed the molecules in marijuana that have such potential but are also a source of intense controversy. I have seen those molecules turned into medicine that has quelled epilepsy in a child and pain in a grown adult. I’ve seen it help a woman at the peak of her life to overcome the ravages of multiple sclerosis.
I am more convinced than ever that it is irresponsible to not provide the best care we can, care that often may involve marijuana.
I am not backing down on medical marijuana; I am doubling down.
… Legislators from several states have reached out to me, eager to inform their own positions and asking to show the documentary to their fellow lawmakers … One place where lawmakers saw a long clip was Georgia,
where the state House just passed a medical marijuana bill by a vote of 171-4. Before the legislative session started, most people didn’t think this bill had a chance.
More remarkable, many doctors and scientists … called me confidentially to share their own stories of the drug and the benefit it has provided to their patients.
Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance, defined as “the most dangerous” drugs “with no currently accepted medical use.” Neither of those statements has ever been factual. Even many of the most ardent critics of medical marijuana don’t agree with the Schedule I classification … Even the head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Dr. Nora Volkow, seems to have softened her stance; she told me she believes
we need to loosen restrictions for researchers.
[S]upport for medical marijuana has grown, including in some unexpected places.
Pete Carroll, the coach of the Super Bowl-winning Seattle Seahawks, said the National Football League should explore medical marijuana if it helps players. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell … says the NFL is following the science that suggests marijuana may help recovery from concussions.
… I have mostly resisted temptation to … [pit] alcohol against marijuana or [remind] you that cocaine and methamphetamine are actually more available than marijuana to patients, physicians and medical researchers:
They are Schedule II drugs, with recognized medical uses. … that on average, a person dies every 19 minutes in this country from a legal prescription drug overdose, while it is virtually unheard-of to die from a marijuana overdose.
… We are talking about a medicine, known scientifically as cannabis … for people to start thinking of this substance as a medicine, perhaps we should start calling it by its medical name, something that was suggested to me by medical marijuana advocates pretty much everywhere I went this year. [The] 1936 film “Reefer Madness” was propaganda made to advance an agenda with dramatic falsehoods and hyperbole, I hope you will find [my documentary] “Cannabis Madness” an accurate reflection of what is happening today, injected with the best current science.
You will meet families all across the country — a stay-at-home mom from Ohio, a nurse practitioner from Florida, an insurance salesman from Alabama — more than 100 families who have all left jobs, homes, friends and family behind and moved to Colorado to get the medicine that relieves their suffering.
As things stand now, many of these good people don’t ever get to return home. Why? Because transporting their medicine, even if it is a non-psychoactive cannabis oil, could get them arrested for drug trafficking. And
so they are stuck, cannabis refugees.
… I am a father myself, first and foremost. I don’t want my children taking or being offered a psychoactive substance. As a neurosurgeon, I know that the developing brain is more susceptible to the most harmful effects of
cannabis and that brain development continues well into our mid-20s…. Yes, I know there is a concern that many people out there will feign ailments just to get marijuana. But withholding legitimate treatment for the needy is a very unjust way of addressing that concern.
…[T]he American Epilepsy Society says that there are a million people for whom existing therapies do not control their seizures. The society recently said anecdotes about medical marijuana “give reason for hope” and said it supports “well-controlled studies that will lead to a better understanding of the disease and the development of safe and effective treatments.”