A prominent US doctor and media personality and former critic of cannabis has announced he now supports the drug’s use in medicine.
Dr Sanjay Gupta is a neurosurgeon, assistant professor of neurosurgery at Emory University School of Medicine and associate chief of neurosurgery service at Grady Memorial Hospital. He is also the chief medical correspondent for CNN and a multi Emmy award winner for his work with CNN. He was also reportedly offered the title of Surgeon General of the United States by the Obama Administration.
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In 2009 Gupta wrote a story for TIME magazine entitled “Why I Would Vote No on Pot.” But today he has come out in favour of medical use of the drug. He said that his beliefs and ideas in 2009 were based on an incomplete knowledge of the evidence both for and against drugs. Gupta said that he did not look hard enough and missed great research from small labs as well as testimony from patients helped by cannabis.
Gupta also came down hard on the US government and their classification of cannabis as schedule one substance, which means it is one of the most dangerous drugs. He said that the USA classified cannabis as a dangerous drug with “no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse”, despite a lack of science to support that claim.
Gupta when on to say that cannabis neither has a high risk for potential abuse and it has legitimate medical uses. He believes so strongly that cannabis has medical potential that in a recent article he said, “We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologise for my own role in that.”
Now Gupta is releasing a documentary detailing his about face on cannabis. In it he does not go so far as to recommend total legalisation of cannabis. He also points out that there is a percentage of people, around 9 percent, who can become addicted to cannabis and some people can experience withdrawal symptoms.
Gupta further qualified his support of cannabis saying that cannabis does pose a possible risk of psychosis and it could damage young developing minds. Because of this, he said he does not support full legalisation for all uses of cannabis. Instead Gupta has said the US should allow its use in medicine.
He cites some of the possible medical benefits of cannabis including suppression of seizures, tumour suppression, increasing appetite in cancer patients, and treatment of glaucoma.
Unfortunately, because cannabis is a schedule one drug, research into these areas of treatment are very limited in the USA.