I remember my dismay and disappointment when I read Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s Time Magazine piece, “Why I Would Vote No on Pot”, in 2009. I was disappointed because Dr. Gupta seemed like a rational fellow that should understand that cannabis prohibition has caused much more harm than cannabis itself. It seemed to me that anyone highly educated who examined the multitude of scientific evidence available should be able to see that cannabis prohibition is a massive failure. Of course, an irrational fervor or financial stake can override rationality, but that didn’t seem like the case either way with the doctor. I was dismayed because Dr. Gupta demonstrated a major mainstream voice in our political and scientific discourse, and if we didn’t have Dr. Gupta, we likely weren’t ready to pass cannabis legalization measure in this country.
Proposition 19, the effort to end cannabis prohibition in California, did indeed lose (narrowly) at the ballot box in 2010 and history has shown that our country was just a couple of years away from passing cannabis legalization measures in any state. Apparently, Dr. Gupta needed a few years to evolve on the issue as well. The good doctor now recognizes his error, and showing great grace and humility, has offered a public apology for endorsing prohibition and now publicly voices his support for cannabis legalization. He has published a piece for CNN.com and will be airing a documentary special, “WEED”, this Sunday evening, August 11th on the news network.
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. 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.
Dr. Gupta has certainly done his due diligence researching the available scientific literature regarding cannabis and he understands the roadblocks and obstacles placed in front of any research conducted in the United States. He has evaluated the reasons marijuana was determined to be a Schedule I substance federally in the first place, the research conducted in the U.S., research conducted across the world and the plight of individual patients. Now, the accomplished neurosurgeon has come to the conclusion that I suspect every rational person, without a personal bias, will come to after reviewing the facts and evidence-cannabis should be legalized.
Instead of implementing a common sense policy to regulate cannabis like alcohol and tobacco, our government has instead waged a war on consumers and providers, utilizing armed SWAT units and locking nonviolent citizens in cages while seizing their personal property. The cannabis community didn’t choose to wage any war, a war is being waged upon us. While violence is used against us, we fight back nonviolently spreading our message of peace through political efforts, scientific evidence and influencing cultural norms. Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s support for cannabis legalization helps us on all fronts. I will be tuning in on Sunday and will have more to report after viewing it and I encourage everyone to spread the word to families and friends, even opponents of cannabis legalization and those on the fence. Person to person, city to city, state to state, country to country-until we are all free. Upward and onward, my friends.