CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, wants to blow the doors off the stigma surrounding medical marijuana. His newest documentary, "Weed", which airs August 11, was preceded by a report from CNN today in which Gupta states that he has changed his mind on the issue of medical marijuana.
Previous to this announcement, Dr. Gupta was an absolute believer that marijuana was harmful in all its various forms. In a 2009 article for "TIME", he wrote, "I'm here to tell you, as a doctor, that despite all the talk about the medical benefits of marijuana, smoking the stuff is not going to do your health any good."
What follows is going to be achingly familiar to any semi-informed medical marijuana advocates out there. You know, the ones who have spent quite literally the last three decades trying to get someone to listen to them when they say that weed has some medical benefits. Just try to grin and bare it, guys (and pretend like this information is new).
As it turns out, Dr. Gupta may have been wrong about the assessment that medical marijuana has no redeeming value. Advocates across the country are currently hoping that the endorsement of medical marijuana by one of the most respected medical minds in the country might help turn that sentiment around.
In his article, Dr. Gupta states that marijuana was initially given such harsh treatment, "Not because of sound science, but because of its absence ...".
To make his point, Dr. Gupta will be quoting the same facts and figures that have been around (and casually dismissed) for sixty odd years. Take, for example, the study commissioned in 1944 that proved marijuana was neither habit forming nor a gateway drug. Or the letter from 1970 that sealed marijuana's fate, labeling it a schedule 1 narcotic. Schedule 1 drugs are considered the most harmful group of drugs. To put that in context, not even cocaine and meth are considered schedule 1 narcotics.
Further, Dr. Gupta will certainly take the oft travelled road and trot out people who are genuinely sick and who get a genuine benefit from medical marijuana, either through simple pain relief or the actual mitigation of symptoms (stroke victims and cancer patients know what I'm talking about).
These are all tactics that have been used before. Heck, if you don't want to wait until next Tuesday, just go rent "Super High Me" right now. It'll be enlightening on a similar level as (and probably funnier than) Dr. Gupta's forthcoming "Weed".
If advocates for the legalization of marijuana weren't so relieved that people are finally reconsidering their approach to the substance, they might be kind of irritated that all it took to reopen the conversation was the shocked gasp of a pretty doctor. As it stands, though, most medical marijuana fans are simply glad to have their message - if not their voice - finally heard.