A few years ago, Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN angered quite a few people when he openly criticized medical marijuana, agreeing with the United States’ government thoroughly discredited position that cannabis has no medicinal value. As a highly respected physician, many people thought that Dr. Gupta should have known better. Now, Dr. Gupta is drowning in praise after apologizing for his previous remarks, and reversing his stance, after thoroughly studying medical marijuana. At the time Dr. Gupta made his controversial remarks denouncing medical marijuana, he did not know much about the subject, but trusted the FDA’s decision to include cannabis as a schedule I drug, a classification reserved for drugs with no medicinal value.
While working on a documentary for CNN entitled “Weed: Dr. Sanjay Gupta Reports,” the brain surgeon delved into the topic of medical marijuana, expecting to find confirmation for his pre-existing opinion. Instead, he found such overwhelming evidence in support of the efficacy of medical marijuana, that he not only did a complete 180 degree turnaround, he also felt compelled to apologize for his prior remarks. Dr. Gupta stated, “we have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that. I hope this article and upcoming documentary will help set the record straight.”
Dr. Gupta should be praised for his apology. So often, prominent men like him are loathe to admit mistakes. Dr. Gupta is one of the most respected celebrity physicians in America. His embrace of medical cannabis is a key milestone. Dr. Gupta may not be as prominent as Walter Cronkite was in the era of only four TV networks, but I feel there is a parallel to Dr. Gupta’s embrace of marijuana and Walter Cronkite’s 1968 conclusion that the Viet Nam War was unwinnable. After Cronkite’s editorial, LBJ correctly noted “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.” Likewise, if the FDA, DEA and US Attorney General’s Office have lost a respected, mainstream figure like Dr. Gupta, medical cannabis in all 50 states cannot be far away.
Matt McClenahen is a criminal defense attorney in State College, Pennsylvania, home of Penn State University. He has extensive experience representing people charged with marijuana related offenses. http://www.mattmlaw.com/Criminal-Defense-Overview/Marijuana-Related-Offenses.shtml