As more and more evidence emerges that medical cannabis can transform some debilitating diseases in children – preventing seizures, for example – Dr. Sanjay Gupta does more than an about face, he acknowledges his past error:
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. Instead, I lumped them with the high-visibility malingerers, just looking to get high. 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 medicinal 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.
What’s staggering to me is that anyone who has access to the Internet could believe for one second that what the federal government says about marijuana is true. It’s a self-evident, massive lie, incapable of being defended, and asserted by some kind of fiat. Just watch this pathetic spectacle. It’s like something out of the late Soviet Union, in which an apparatchik is forced to lie to conform to an obviously untrue ideology. This is not science:
That the Obama administration has done nothing to reclassify the drug to conform to minimal medical standards of accuracy can only be called extreme cowardice. At some point, in my view, this president needs to say about marijuana what he said about marriage equality: that he’s for legalization, taxation and regulation. But Gupta is a helpful stepping stone – a mainstream celebrity acknowledging that the US government is engaged in misleading and lying repeatedly to the American people. Gupta spells out the empirical reality:
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. Take the case of Charlotte Figi, who I met in Colorado. 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.
I have seen more patients like Charlotte first hand, spent time with them and come to the realization that it is irresponsible not to provide the best care we can as a medical community, care that could involve marijuana. We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that.
Alex Moore thinks Gupta’s support could prove significant:
The fact is, no matter what category they represent, celebrities tend to cauterize our opinions. It’s not their fault—it’s just how work as a society. Mario Batali, Jamie Oliver and Top Chef come to define how we think of good cooking, and the opinions of celebrity doctors like Sanjay come to represent the “medical mainstream.”