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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

CNN's Sanjay Gupta: Allow Doctors To Research Marijuana

Posted By on Tue, Mar 11, 2014 at 5:55 PM

To hear medical professionals and television addicts tell it, Sanjay Gupta is the most important doctor in America.

And, for another day at least, the CNN medical correspondent might be: He's the man who will tell President Barack Obama on national television to get it right and allow doctors to research marijuana. He's also the guy -- and this is the key bit -- to whom people are listening.

Not only that, Gupta is putting prohibitionists on notice: for children's epileptic seizures to be calmed, for tumors of cancer patients to shrink and for sufferers of AIDS to be able to eat and sleep, it's not enough to remove one active ingredient from the plant and put it in a pill -- you need the whole plant.

And that means the law in America needs to change. Because right now, there's a choice between advancing the science and being and outlaw, or just plain doing nothing while people die.

Last summer, CNN aired Gupta's mini-documentary-slash-mea culpa, "Weed," in which he apologized for being anti-marijuana (as he was while on the short list for the post of surgeon general) and took a look at some of the medical afflictions cannabis helps, epilepsy in kids among them.

If you were cynical, you could rightly say that CNN and Gupta both were right to change their views, and not exactly weathermen: their about-face matched up nicely with national polling that showed Americans are accepting medical and outright legalized marijuana in greater numbers than ever. And lo and behold, "Weed" was a "ratings smash" for the network.

Last week, in promoting tonight's Part 2, Gupta announced that he's "doubling down" on marijuana -- and by that he means he's smashing every argument against medical use of the plant and quite a few arguments against legalization to tiny broken bits of nonsense.

Marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance, which means the drug warriors say it has no medical value and is highly addictive.

Both of these points are at best highly debatable; Gupta goes a step further and says -- as many have said for decades -- that they are outright hogwash. And, worse, poisonous nonsense that's keeping scientific and medical research stymied -- and making sick people suffering.

He questions prohibitionists' desire as well to remove only the medically-efficacious bits of the plant and turn them, and only them, into medicine, keeping the actual plant bit illegal.

That's not how the cannabis plant works, Gupta says -- it's not just THC and not just recently-revealed CBD that will shrink a tumor or cause a seizure to stop, respectively.

It's the whole plant acting in concert.... just as proponents of the drug have been saying for decades.

You could say Gupta is reading the tea leaves and just lending a well-known and credible name to a pre-existing movement. You could go further and suggest that he has a financial stake in what is bound to be a booming business.

Whatever. It doesn't matter.

What matters is that people are finally listening. And that's good medicine.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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