Dr. Sanjay Gupta is a neurosurgeon, a medical professor and an Emmy award-winning chief medical correspondent for CNN. In 2011, Dr. Gupta was named “one of the 10 most influential celebrities” by Forbes magazine.
1. “I am here to apologize.”
CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta wasn’t always a marijuana supporter.
In 2009, Dr. Gupta argued against medical marijuana in an article for TIME magazine titled “Why I would Vote No on Pot.” At the time, he thought the scientific evidence just wasn’t there.
But after spending the past year filming a documentary and investigating the facts behind marijuana, Dr. Gupta decided that the public deserved an apology.
His apology came last month in an essay called “Why I changed my mind on weed.”
2. “For 3,000 years marijuana was a legitimate medication.”
Dr. Gupta says he didn’t look closely enough at medical marijuana until he started filming his documentary called WEED, which premiered on CNN last month.
One of the things he learned about was the history of medical marijuana dating back thousands of years. Dr. Gupta touched on this point during a discussion with CNN’s Piers Morgan.
3. “The science is there. This isn’t anecdotal.”
Once again, Dr. Gupta admitted to Piers Morgan that he failed to carefully review the science behind medical marijuana. But it’s hard to blame him.
In a separate discussion with CNN’s Situation Room, Dr. Gupta pointed out that the “vast majority” of research published in the U.S. looks at marijuana’s harm rather than its benefits. However, he says research being conducted in other countries like Israel paints a clearer picture.
4. “We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States.”
In his essay, Dr. Sanjay Gupta harshly criticized marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I substance.
Not only is the federal position on marijuana misleading, but Dr. Gupta also acknowledged his own role in misleading the public in the past.
5. “It doesn’t have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications.”
Dr. Gupta dug into marijuana’s Schedule I classification further and found multiple inconsistencies.
To be a Schedule I drug requires marijuana to have both a high potential for abuse and no legitimate medical use. But according to Dr. Gupta, marijuana fits neither of these criteria.
6. “The United States government also owns a patent on marijuana as a medical application.”
Dr. Gupta called the classification of marijuana an outright “hypocrisy” during numerous television appearances.
On Piers Morgan Live, Dr. Gupta pointed to a patent held by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services titled “Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants” as an example of just how bad the situation really is.
7. “It could potentially help people who really need it and it’s not being offered.”
Dr. Gupta told ABC’s Katie Couric that he now understands why the debate is so heated.
Unlike those who argue that medical marijuana is only an excuse for recreational use, Dr. Gupta believes the reason that people are so “riled up” about legalizing marijuana is because of its potential as a legitimate medicine.
8. “I couldn’t find a single confirmed overdose death.”
Dr. Gupta regularly reminds the public that prescription drug overdoses claim a life every 19 minutes.
In contrast, Dr. Gupta told CNN’s Situation Room that he failed to find evidence of marijuana ever causing a single death. Many argue that marijuana is one of the safest substances in the world when it comes to mortality risk.
9. “It could compete with a lot of things.”
Dr. Gupta’s investigation led him to uncover the real reason for marijuana prohibition, which he revealed on Craig Ferguson’s late night show.
He says competing industries were, and still are, a major force behind the ban on marijuana and its industrial cousin – hemp.
For example, Dr. Gupta noted that the infamous Reefer Madness documentary was entirely funded by DuPont Chemical. DuPont was heavily invested in nylon. In the 1930s, nylon was a new synthetic fiber that would’ve seen hemp fiber as direct competition.
10. “I cannot find the harm in it.”
Dr. Gupta told Katie Couric that he didn’t see much danger in recreational marijuana use, especially considering the fact that alcohol and tobacco are legal for adults.
When asked whether he would try marijuana with his daughter after she turned 21, he said he wouldn’t view it any differently than sharing a drink with her.