“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.”
Those are the words of Dr. Sanjay Gupta in a column he wrote for Time magazine eight years ago.
It seems hard to believe now as Dr. Gupta has become almost synonymous with cannabis as a result of his “Weed” documentary series on CNN (although he begs to differ about the synonymous part, but more on that later).
He was emphatic in the Time piece, surmising of those voting to legalize marijuana in 2009 in Nevada and Colorado that “many of them just want to get stoned legally. That’s why I, like many other doctors, am unimpressed with the proposed legislation, which would legalize marijuana irrespective of any medical condition.”
Three “Weed” documentaries later (2013, 2014 and 2015) and with a fourth on the way later this year, having clearly changed his stance, Dr. Gupta is, today, just as emphatic about the medicinal and healing value of cannabis.
“Not only can it be of benefit, but sometimes it can be the only thing that is of benefit as we saw with the very refractory epilepsy and, maybe, even some of these cases of neuropathic pain. That’s powerful, that’s really really powerful to me. And forget that I am doctor, it’s probably immoral to not allow people to have relief from something — especially when they can’t find it in any of the existing modalities that are being prescribed to them. I think it probably borders on immoral, or maybe it just is immoral,” he concludes.
When the neurosurgeon reflects on his journey with cannabis from non-believer to someone who’s “goal is to keep this very important conversation going,” Dr. Gupta is disconcerted by the idea that initially he didn’t take cannabis seriously as a medicine.