Sanjay Gupta Medical Marijuana: Doc 'Doubling Down' on Benefits

Image: Sanjay Gupta Medical Marijuana: Doc 'Doubling Down' on Benefits

Thursday, 06 Mar 2014 11:17 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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CNN's chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta wrote Thursday that he is "doubling down" on the benefits of medical marijuana, despite former drug policy officials who say that increased use of the drug is a bad idea.

Gupta, who was once a medical marijuana opponent, said he changed his mind on the drug's benefit last year after doing additional research on its benefits.

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"I apologize because I didn't look hard enough, until now," Gupta said in a CNN column about his own education on medical marijuana back in August 2013. "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."

In the new column, Gupta wrote that since last August he has become more convinced that to exclude medical marijuana from treatment would be equivalent to not providing all credible medical options to patients.

"I am more convinced than ever that it is irresponsible to not provide the best care we can, care that often may involve marijuana," he said. "I am not backing down on medical marijuana; I am doubling down. I should add that, although I've taken some heat for my reporting on marijuana, it hasn't been as lonely a position as I expected. Legislators from several states have reached out to me, eager to inform their own positions and asking to show the documentary to their fellow lawmakers."

Opinions on marijuana vary in the medical community. Dr. Robert DuPont, a former White House drug chief and former director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and Dr. Andrea Barthwell, former deputy director for demand reduction at the Office of National Drug Control Policy, have both railed against the increased use of marijuana.

"As doctors who have practiced addiction medicine for decades, we're seeing unprecedented levels of marijuana addiction today," DuPont and Barthwell wrote in an editorial for the Seattle Times in 2012.

"Treatment admissions for marijuana-use disorders have dramatically increased, accounting for 18 percent of admissions in 2010, higher than for heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and prescription painkillers. We attribute rising marijuana addiction to increases in use and the astounding rise in marijuana potency — more than 760 percent higher than in the 1960s," the editorial continued.

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