Dr. Sanjay Gupta Changes Opinion on Marijuana; NCADD-RA Won’t

By: Justine Smith, New Media/Web Content Coordinator

It’s not often you hear a respected neurosurgeon concede he was wrong. Perhaps even rarer is his admission that he used an illegal drug.

But that’s what Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent, revealed in last Thursday’s article “Why I changed my mind on weed” as a precursor to Sunday night’s documentary “Weed”, a straightforward title summarizing a complicated topic.

Dr. Gupta seemed to defend his turnaround because of his initial lack of research and subsequent dismissal of patients whose conditions improved with marijuana.

“I apologize because I didn’t look hard enough, until now. 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.”

Unfortunately, instead of increasing awareness of the differences between medical and street-bought marijuana, the article and documentary add to the confusion.

“We are troubled that some of CNN’s coverage of Dr. Gupta’s views muddies the water on this issue,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, Director of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) in a blog post last Friday.

DePaul’s National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence- Rochester Area (NCADD-RA) and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence takes the same position as Dr. Sabet and SAM:

1. Marijuana should remain illegal

Dr. Gupta doesn’t explicitly support the legalization of marijuana, yet declares, “we have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States.”

NCADD-RA, however, “opposes legalization primarily because of the new Big Marijuana industry that will commercialize the drug for profits,” according to SAM’s blog post.

2. The medicinal value of marijuana should continue to be researched

Dr. Gupta mentions valuable research on marijuana’s medicinal benefits, include anti-cancer effects and treatment for PTSD symptoms.

Indeed, the “medicinal value of marijuana should be studied to develop pharmacy-obtained, legitimate, standardized, non-smoked medications.”

Interested in learning more about current trends with marijuana? NCADD-RA will host the workshop Current Trends: Marijuana and Synthetic Drugs NCADD-RA on Wednesday, September 4, 2013. Jennifer Faringer, Director of NCADD-RA, will explore the symptoms and effects of both marijuana and synthetic drugs of abuse and current trends in the legalization movement.

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For more information on this workshop and NCADD-RA, please visit www.ncadd-ra.org or contact Jennifer Faringer at jfaringer@depaul.org.

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