CNN’s Sanjay Gupta: Apologizes for Past Opposition, Delivers Full Throated Defense of Medical MarijuanaAugust 8, 2013
CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta has reversed his previous opposition to marijuana law reform and delivered a full throated defense of cannabis’ medical applications in an editorial published this week on CNN.
In his own words:
Over the last year, I have been working on a new documentary called “Weed.” The title “Weed” may sound cavalier, but the content is not.
I traveled around the world to interview medical leaders, experts, growers and patients. I spoke candidly to them, asking tough questions. What I found was stunning.
Long before I began this project, I had steadily reviewed the scientific literature on medical marijuana from the United States and thought it was fairly unimpressive. Reading these papers five years ago, it was hard to make a case for medicinal marijuana. I even wrote about this in a TIME magazine article, back in 2009, titled “Why I would Vote No on Pot.”
Well, I am here to apologize.
Click here to read the full article.
Dr. Gupta, a neurosurgeon and CNN’s chief medical correspondent, explains how he mistakenly bought into certain government propaganda surrounding cannabis, but through continued research and his experiences filming his upcoming documentary “Weed” (which airs on CNN on Sunday at 8pm ET and PT) completely changed his mind on the plant and its efficacy.
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.
NORML applauds Dr. Gupta for openly apologizing for his role in how Americans have been “terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States” on the issue of marijuana and his recent advocacy in favor of marijuana law reforms, something we can only hope will continue. Sanjay appeared on Piers Morgan Live last night to promote his new documentary, this segment alone demands some attention for his ability to explain the medical applications of cannabis and the hypocrisy of our current laws in an intelligent and articulate manner.
If current momentum sustains itself, Sanjay Gupta (who was named Forbes #8 Most Influential Celebrity in 2011) is just one more of what will become a long line of prominent and respected media and medical professionals who will speak up against our failed cannabis prohibition. His advocacy can have nothing but a net positive effect on the current dialogue going on in mainstream America surrounding marijuana and help continue to push public opinion in our favor.
Sanjay Gupta’s “Weed” airs this Sunday on CNN at 8pm ET and PT
The so-called Partnership for a Drug-Free [sic] America (PDFA) has been a prolific, yet impotent, anti-marijuana propaganda machine since its inception in the mid 1980’s under President Ronald ‘Just Say No’ Reagan. No other quasi governmental or private entity spent more money or had greater access to mainstream media to try to perpetuate the federal government’s failed cannabis prohibition. Only the now unpopular and underfunded DARE program rivaled PDFA in it’s high visibility efforts to maintain support among the American populace for cannabis prohibition–but was equally feckless–wasting billions in taxpayer dollars and not impacting youth drug use rates.
Both DARE and PDFA were largely ignored and underfunded by the George W. Bush Administration from 2000-2008, with the current administration continuing to follow suit by diminishing the size and scope of both’s finances and public reach.
After the PDFA released a new survey today, with media outlets starting to contact NORML for commentary, only then did it become clear to me that the beginning of the end is die in the cast for PDFA when they chose to put out a survey that in effect says ‘marijuana legalization is coming, but only for adults’.
Really?! PDFA needed to waste even more funding and bandwidth informing the public that support for cannabis legalization for adults is at an all time high, but that parents surveyed don’t think the herbal drug should be legalized for youth or marketed to children.
Gee. Was there anybody in America advocating that children should be able to legally buy and use cannabis products?
While the PFDA’s most recent survey seeks to create a political red herring about children and cannabis, the survey affirms the now obvious in American life: public support for continuing cannabis prohibition is at an all time low and tax-n-regulating cannabis is an alternative public policy that now enjoys majority support.
After watching and archiving hundreds of anti-cannabis propaganda commercials from the PDFA going back to the late 1980s, reading this new survey acknowledging 1) Legalization is quickly picking up public and political support in America, 2) Americans want a sensible cannabis policy, where, like with alcohol products, only adults have legal and controlled access and 3) Parents have concerns about potential cannabis advertisements in mass media demonstrates to me that another major socio-political ‘tea leaf” has revealed itself with the PDFA now left to propagandize about if and how legal cannabis will marketed, not whether cannabis is an inherently ‘evil’ drug that will forever be prohibited.
With even the hardcore anti-cannabis folks at PDFA now recognizing the changing attitudes about cannabis in favor of legalization, when will Congress and the White House finally embrace this political reality too?
In what should be an interesting debate today at the Aspen Ideas Festival today at 12:20 (eastern) Drug Policy Alliance director Ethan Nadelmann is debating former DEA administrator Asa Hutchinson.Youtube has live stream starting @ 12:20PM (eastern)Having debated Asa numerous times, and having worked with Ethan for twenty years, this is a decidedly unfair debate as Ethan has forgotten more about cannabis policy than Asa will ever know, and Asa brings all of the enthusiasm and intellectual commitment to the debate as a corporate lawyer. His m.o. of parroting DEA-provided talking points is what I find so disappointing ‘debating’ Asa.Having cannabis legalization debated at this venerable Aspen Institute forum is another socio-political ‘tea leaf’ indicative of the mainstream discussion underway to reform cannabis laws.
There are four new videos worth checking out, two provide comic relief…two provide contrasting views about cannabis prohibition.
The same day last week I caught a CNN news piece about high school science students sending and recording an egg with a smiley face launched into space, I received something way cooler:
The first earth-grown cannabis launched into space (unless the US and Russian governments have been ferrying cannabis into space all these years…).
From our friends at High Times:
*Proviso: While ‘space’ cannabis is neat, driving while consuming cannabis is an unwise safety and legal decision in all 50 states.
In what you knew would be a confrontational interview, former Congressman and SAM spokesman Patrick Kennedy bravely goes into the wheelhouse of one of America’s most ardent pro-cannabis supporters: comedian, TV host and NORML Advisory Board member Bill Maher.
The results. As expected. Kennedy came on larding his advocacy with a plethora of old and/or taken out of context ‘science’ claiming that he used to think ‘pot was not a big deal’, but now has learned otherwise. When confronted by Maher that Kennedy’s anti-cannabis advocacy is misplaced and that his rhetoric sounds like a barely warmed over “Just Say No’ rant from the 1980s, Kennedy claims newly gained insights:
Really? If this is true–Mr. Kennedy used to think cannabis no big deal and he possess new insight into why prohibition should go on another seventy five years?–the long-serving former state representative and congressman from Rhode Island, with no public or legislative record record indicating anything other than rote support for cannabis prohibition, certainly never conveyed to his constituents or media that he thought cannabis was ‘no big deal’.
And this new insight that he claims to have gained…might this have come from the ardently anti-cannabis legalization drug rehabilitation industry that Mr. Kennedy is not only had a client of because of his own alcohol and prescription drug abuse, but that he has always been closely associated with this rarely observed side of the pot prohibition perpetuation machinery in Washington, D.C.?
Currently, probably living with the real fear that the government will stop bring clients to them forced with the Hobson’s Choice of ‘rehab’ or to get criminally prosecuted, and to often have the government pick up the financial tab, one of the last (and obvious) proponents for the status quo to maintain the government’s failed cannabis prohibition are some active quarters of the ‘drug rehabilitation’ industry.
Where this newly formed SAM gets its funding (the group appears to be mainly a front group for drug rehabbers and anti-tobacco advocates) will help largely answer the questions: Who likely benefits from cannabis prohibition? Who wants to keep the prohibition policy going, when a majority of the American public no longer does?
A now nearly regular featured anti-prohibition satirist who specializes in using popular music video parodies to make fun of pot prohibition (and advance his political career in Miami Beach, Florida), Steve Berke has forwarded NORML another of his unique takes:
Also, Steve is trying to now produce a documentary movie. If you like his style and how is he is trying to shake up Miami Beach’s political scene, check out his new KickStarter campaign here.
Lastly, and appropriately, the TV originator of the “Last Word’ (a nightly segment on MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell Show), gets the last word on the absurdity and inevitable collapse of cannabis prohibition in America.
Watch O’Donnell’s powerful indictment against the federal government’s continued support for the failed public policy of cannabis prohibition here.
Last week, NORML Founder/Legal Counsel Keith Stroup and NORML Communications Director, Erik Altieri, sat down with Bob Edwards (former host of NPR’s Morning Edition) on his SiriusXM talk radio program. The three discussed a wide range of issues, including the benefits of legalization, current pending legislation, industrial hemp, and more.
“You ask why legalize marijuana? In reality, why we should legalize marijuana is the same as most of the stated goals of the people who say they want prohibition. We want to decrease youth access, we want to create safer communities, we want to better prioritize our law enforcement resources and direct them towards violent crimes. Currently, there is a burglary in this country, a home invasion, at a staggering rate, almost every thirty seconds or so. Meanwhile, we are arresting marijuana smokers at a very similar rate. The difference is, most home burglaries, only about 10 percent of those people are ever caught.
If we can take the police and instead of focusing them on these non-violent crimes, focus them on where the police work should be, protecting their communities, focusing on violent crime like assault and burglary, then we can accomplish these goals that the prohibitionists claim they want, but have failed to achieve over 40 years.” – Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director
“There is absolutely no basis to treat [marijuana consumers] as criminals. We’re hard working people, we raise families, we pay taxes, we contribute in a positive way to our communities. Criminal prohibition of alcohol didn’t work and it hasn’t worked with marijuana. Finally, the country has come around to that position. We now enjoy the support of the majority of the American public.” – Keith Stroup, NORML Founder and Legal Counsel
You can listen to his interview with National NORML staff below:
For more on The Bob Edwards Show, including where and how you can listen to this and future episodes, click here.