CNN’s Sanjay Gupta: Apologizes for Past Opposition, Delivers Full Throated Defense of Medical Marijuana

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

49 thoughts

  1. If we actually play by Howard Samuels rules then Booze & Cigarettes should be illegal. They are the TRUE Gateway drugs, most ALL kids start out w/either or both & then may try Pot. BUT unlike Pot Booze and Cigarettes can and do kill you.

  2. Thank Goodness this sounds like such a success for ending the prohibition on marijuana especially in the light of Uruguay making moves to legalize weed as well. Yay! I cant wait for the progress!

  3. At least he apologized on camera and was fully honest about being wrong. The good news is we have someone who is a popular doctor on a news show and is respected by the medical community. Plus he did provide an excellent example of how Marijuana can work for people that have a much harder time with prescribed drugs as well.

    Sanjay Gupta i accept your apology, and i hope others in the Medical Marijuana community do as well.

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  5. Baptist cemetary? Many invites… those who come will be welcome… those who don’t will be cursed forever lol

  6. Viewers of this segment need to take note that Howard Samuels (the anti-weed debater) is the CEO of a drug rehabilitation company.

  7. One of the best videos I’ve seen in a long time to help the legalization of MJ. The con arguments were not very powerful as they never are but all the facts for we’re well documented. This is a very useful drug not only for people suffering dramatically, but also for other psychological reasons that help people with problems that are not seen as medical. I have alway been a very shy person which makes it very difficult for me to talk to people I do not know very well. When I have smoked even just one hit it mellows me out and helps me get past my fears, which makes me a lot more comfortable in certain situations and lets me relax so I am not as nervous talking. This needs to be legalized very soon as it is a much better alternative to alcohol and tobacco. Free this nation!

  8. This sets a precedent for others to change their minds. It will show that personal courage can be associated with positive PR. Most of all it is a another sign of the unstoppable movement towards the end of prohibition (which is looking closer all the time).

  9. He argued that it should be treated like alcohol for recreational use on a previous Piers Morgan show as well as on “Katie” and he eluded to that stance on Craig Ferguson all within the past month. I wish I had saved that video of his “Katie” appearance before it got yanked from youtube. You’ve gotta see it if you can find it.

  10. I’ve been complaining about this guy for years. It is very surprising to hear something sensible and even remorseful from him at all.

  11. A while back I wrote my Congressional Representative, Andy Harris, about medical marijuana. His response cited irreproducible studies from 30 years ago. It took me 2 minutes to google-up a subsequent metastudy showing the opposite of his claims. A metastudy! A study of studies. That’s reproducible science.

    No competent physician would treat patients based on irreproducible studies that are 30 years out of date. Yet when it comes to public policy, this kind of incompetence is routine.

    Oh yeah, almost forgot, Dr. Harris IS a physician.

    For further commentary check this out:

  12. I used to like and respect this guy until he joined up with the government and became one of the brainwashed. He was so anti pot, I thought “Wow, if they can brainwash this doctor, nobody is safe”.

    Then this revelation: He woke up. He deprogrammed his own brain and started to look at FACTS.

    And so now, I like this guy.

    Now, all of you DEA PIGS, LAWYERS, COPS, JUDGES (the folks who profit from pot being illegal)this could be you!!! I hate you all right now, but there is hope that you can all be deprogrammed – preferably in a jail cell – and returned to society rehabilitated. And then I may accept you a decent human being again, like Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

  13. “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.”

    These people deliberately lied to wage their damn “culture war” on the rest of their fellow Americans. They’ve instilled a clever apparatnik into the bureaucracy of government playing NIDA and the FDA as a means to suppress the advancement of medical science. This is nothing short of a crime against humanity, folks. These people should be made to pay for this crime. It is not somehow OK. We-were-just-doing-our-jobs is not a justification.

    “Surely they must have quality reasoning…” – Oh, really. Mr. Gupta failed to do his job at CNN properly. He failed to ‘check his facts’ as we once expected professional journalists to do as a matter of course.

    Their is an anti-science movement in government more pervasive than than just the marijuana issue. We’ve had two presidents assure us that the door is still open on evolution. Many politicians assure us the climate change is simply an international conspiracy among scientists. This anti-science crap is a sure fire way to turn the USA into just another country on the globe. And a damn expensive one to boot.

  14. It took a supposedly educated man this long to realize he had been spoofed by gov’t propaganda? I say revoke his credentials and send him packing! He’s just another mindless zombie.

    Now it’s time to kick the Chimp-In-Chief to the curb. He’s just another supposedly educated person who continues The War On Some Drugs along with a whole host of misguided policies. Maybe if he kept smoking some dope, his mind would clear up…LOL!

  15. I’ve always respected Sanjay Gupta but, of course, have always believed him to be about 99% wrong about marijuana.

    Now that he’s actually done the research, and apologized, my respect for him has grown tremendously!

    If only Obama would be honest about how he feels about marijuana… I’m almost positive he would enjoy some good reefer whilst relaxing on a Hawaiian beach! Why in the hell does he think that should be illegal? He’s never given an answer as to why he thinks marijuana should be illegal; unless the answer given by his Drug Czar is truly speaking for him…

  16. Soon anybody trying to talk lies: gateway drug, no medical benefits, etc… will be laughed off ANY stage… Hallelujah!!!!

  17. Has anyone ever considered that there is no gateway drug?! Or if you must have one that the gateway drugs is the first one you do. I know for me i went through the dare programs and saw the pictures of junkies and underwent the whole spectrum of government scare tactics and “education.” So when i was in high school and found out a few of my friends smoked weed sometimes. I was surprised. I thought but i couldn’t even tell. Then I tried it and realized that I didn’t crave it, I didn’t withdraw, and i didn’t feel violent or out of control. So I wondered what else have I been lied to about? Fueling my interest in other drugs and being the strongest reinforcement for the I’ll try anything once mentality.

    So my point is that the gateway effect is caused by the realization that we have been lied to and the desire to learn the truth first hand. The gateway effect plays on our youthful desires for adventure, risk taking, and defiance of the idealized “liar.”


  19. Looking forward to watching the documentary this weekend, nice that is getting a lot of coverage, looks like the kind of referral the movement needs to tip the scale in our favor. Not sure who that dork Howard Samuels is but saying that everyone gets “loaded” over and over sounds like a desperate last ditch attempt to convince the undecided that cannabis is not healthy which is total nonsense. He says he has treated hundreds that are “addicted” and that long term exposure creates mental issues is nonsense, their heads probably got screwed up on prescription drugs not from cannabis. I’ve taken it almost daily for over 40 years and am extremely healthy, productive, hard working, tax paying citizen that has had a dream that is slowly coming true to be able to take cannabis without worrying about losing my job or getting thrown in jail. Sanjay made a comment that the potency has gone up over the years which is probably true but that just means you need to use less. I dont drink but you can go into a liquor store and buy anything from light beer to grain alcohol and everything in between all of which will screw up your life and even eventually kill you if you consume too much not to mention other problems it will cause. With cannabis if you take too much you will probably get a good nights sleep and not wake up with a hangover. Sanjay also admitted that he tried it and he felt anxious and didn’t care for it.. He probably tried a sativa which can give that anxious feeling which I don’t like either, if he would have tried an indica variety (some nice kush) he probably would have liked it as indicas are very relaxing which is what I use mostly as it is the best natural stress reliever and blood pressure remedy, my blood pressure is always normal because of it and I never feel the urge to get “loaded” as the dork says. Just a nice puff or two from the vaporizer does the trick and you will sleep like a baby. The one thing I didn’t care for in this segment was everyone was shown smoking which is the traditional way of consuming it but people need to know there are safer alternatives such as vaporizing, making edibles, and extracts so you certainly don’t have to smoke it. But anyway looks like we are all headed in the right direction, thanks Sanjay can’t wait to see the whole show!

  20. I love how the Anti-folks continue to say we recreational users use cannabis to “Medicate our feelings” and “escape the world”……how dare they imply that everyone who smokes does so in order to “flee reality”…no, maybe you ex-user or alcoholics that realized booze wasnt working in helping you forget YOUR issues who wnet on to try cocaine and heroin because you found alcohol or cannabis to be harmless, did just that, allowed it to become a “gateway” drug or a crutch. We dont all do that. I mean, some folks escape reality by over-eating.
    I dont smoke to Escape the world, i smoke to Immerse myself in it! Nothing more , nothing less. Am i healing my body, sure, its one of the benefits!! How lucky am i? Sorry, alcohol lovers who frown upon cannabis with your higer than thou attitudes…you folks are the ones at the bar drinking to forget your issues. Long day at work….happy hour time. When used properly, recreational cannabis use can lead to compassion and understanding and self-awareness too. Non-users should just sit the hell down whenever the subject is brought up. Ex-addicts need to realize, WE ARENT ALL WEAKLINGS OF THE MIND OR SOUL and dont always need a crutch or a “magic potion”. Smoking cannabis has made me the decent human being I am today, through reflection and self realization that alcohol could never ever give me.

  21. I’m fairly disappointed that they didn’t counter the anti-legalization rhetoric with statistics showing legalization decreases usage amongst children, and furthermore just the plain fact that this is a free country with supposedly free will. Instead they only countered with the medical benefits which they were all three agreeing on anyway… I am however very pleased that CNN had this discussion, and made the other guy look like a fool.

  22. Doe’s anybody realize that George Jefferson,1st.President George Washington grew and cultivated mariquna For their own personal use.The laws this country have against it’s use are exacerbated and a strait out lie.Change needs too occur strait away.

  23. It doesn’t surprise me that an intellectually honest person can read as much of the research as possible instead of ONLY that used by the D.E.A. and N.I.D.A and other prohibitionist organizations and come to the conclusion that cannabis ought not be illegal in the first place.

    I’ll grant Dr. Gupta the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t change his tune once he detected the wind had changed, based upon the outright legalization in Colorado and Washington. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he is not doing this just for ratings.

    My praise for Dr. Gupta is that he will educate more people about the totality of evidence on cannabis.

    The federal government has only itself to blame for the egg on its face regarding the failed War on Weed. Cannabis obviously has medical value, as well as recreational value. People are treating their ailments with different varieties of cannabis that have different THC potencies and all different ratios of the various cannabinoids: item epilepsy treatment. The federal government will permit only UMiss to grow it so nobody else can grow the different strains that are effective for this or that. The feds are blocking the research. They’re standing in the way of the development of pharmaceuticals and possible cures for diseases. The feds are standing in the way of HUGE PROFITS for the new drugs Big Pharma develops. Recreational cannabis use will still never go away, and the feds can’t arrest their way out of the problem they created in making it illegal. Pharmaceuticals derived from the various different ratios of all the different cannabinoids with or without THC make very well be better than smoking or vaporizing cannabis, but we’ll never know because the feds are still in the way. Lead, follow, or get out of the way. Feds need to just get out of the way!

  24. Thank you thank you Sanjay, for going public with this. I am the mother of two profoundly disabled children who suffer from severe seizure disorders. The piece on CNN about Charlotte gave me hope that I have not had in years!

  25. Thanks Jage.

    I just got done watching the CNN special and to say I was greatly disappointed would be putting it mildly.IM FUCKING PISSED!!!!!

    Dr. Gupta never apologized for misleading the Ameican people. He never criticized the DEA!! It was advertised that he would do both. He did NEITHER. If you have to dig up an article on NORML to find out he did, then there’s something wrong because the TRUTH DID NOT GET OUT!!!!! He was censored, eith with or without his consent!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The show did highlight the medicinal wonders of pot, but at the same time made it look like those who dont have seizures shouldn’t be using it, and thus, no mention of the GREAT SOCIAL INJUSTICE IT IS TO ARREST AND JAIL AND RUIN PEOPLES LIVES OVER POSSESSING THIS HARMLESS PLANT!!!!!!!FUCKING HELL!!!!!I MUST BE IN FUCKING HELL!!!!

  26. Bahahahaha
    Piers Morgan: Last word to you Mr Samuels.
    (Samuels cuts in)
    Piers Morgan:……….Last word to you Sanjay.

    In no way does this surprise me.
    A CEO of a “Treatment Facility” wants you to think cannabis is harmful.

    So shocking, I think I’ll pass on this illusion. Thanks NORML for the great presentation, for all that you do for the average joe, and thank you Sanjay for your honesty and humility.

  27. Good news, but this movement is taking way to long. 40 plus years to even get to the point where we can talk about this in the mainstream media is too long. We need to take action if we want Congress to finally listen to us. Its time to stage constant peaceful protests in every city until marijuana is legalized. There are to many powerful lobbies standing in the way, peaceful protest is our only option. I don’t want to be talking about how nice it will be to have marijuana legalized in 40 years. The time for action is now. With the right steps it could be legal by the end of the year. At this point I’m willing to sit on the steps of Congress, all alone if necessary, until it is legal. We have forgotten just how powerful peaceful protest can be in this country. The time for action is now while we still have momentum.

  28. Gupta is a brave man to make an about-face like this, and I respect him for it. I’m sure he disappointed a great many of his followers, but FEAR NOT, Sanjay, you have a whole new set! Better Late than never! At last you are on the correct (not to mention, winning) side. Marijuana could hardly be safer if it were designed this way. It is very hypocritical, and very harmful to those who can benefit from its use, not to mention to those who get locked up, literally for having done nothing at all, to ANYBODY, to maintain prohibition. LEGALIZE IT NOW!

  29. marijuana should be legal in ohio because for one some states have done it already either for medical or just to do it i dont see what exactly marijuana has done harm to the world at all it hasent! it cures alot of ppl who have cancer and all that. marijuana isnt a gateway drug at all thats probally one of the biggest lies ever told if marijuana was so bad then no one would let anyone use it for medical reasons and u can clearly see it does alot of good why make something illegal that grew on this earth and hasent done no arm and then people are being put in jail for it its ridiculus people who have done marijuana and ended up doing something much worse thats there fault we shouldint blame it on the marijuana yes i strongly think it should be legal in OHIO!

    From the Daily Show’s coverage of CNN’s marijuana turn around.
    Pierce Morgan tells Sanjay Gupta that Vikadin prescribed to him from falling off a segway in Santa Monica was a “higher high” than cannabis. Very important. Straight to the point over cannabis policy.
    Now can someone PLEASE show us some video of Pierce Morgan falling off a segway?!

  31. I am 64 years old with a number of ailments, but fear of “dirty urine” keeps me from natural cannabis relief. So, I tale blood pressure & pain pills. I continue to endure stress & pain! I have hep c from blood transfusion in1978 (in the hospital) and pain from bulging discs in lower back from nursing care years ago. I work in healthcare in a high stress job. I would like some real relief. Oh, and yes…at the end of a long hard day a couple hits off of a joint to relax would be heavenly.

  32. my partner of 7 years had a muscle disease that progress’s everyday all the docters want to do is put him on more pills hes always in pain, always sick from taking 26 different pills everyday, they still don’t know how or what started this disease tell me how and why should he have to live in pain and another note most of his medication are more dangerous and harmfull to him then weed

  33. I have to agree cannabis should be legal, my partner of 7 years has a muscle disease that progress’s everyday and he’s always in pain, always sick, all the doc’s want to do is put more pills down his throat. He’s upto 26 different meds that he has to take everyday most of this pills have side effocts of liver kidney lose why shove more pills that’s going to cause more damage, and most of his pills are more dangerous and harmful than weed

  34. I watched this last night. Wow…very hard to watch the convulsions of that little girl, but I knew there would be a happy ending. I think with the respect that this Dr. Gupta gets nationally, this is going to be a huge boost to rational thinking and even more reform on cannabis. And if the floodgates weren’t already wide open, they are now…it was only a matter of time before common sense prevailed!

  35. You wrote Andy Harris, one of the most conservative Tea Party Republicans in Congress, What answer did you think you were gonna get.

  36. Wow, I can’t believe how clueless this “doctor” was… I don’t think I would ever recommend a doctor to a family member that takes, like ten years, to figure out what is going on. The disease will progress too far thanks to this moron not treating it correctly or ever listening to his patient(s). His reversal is good, but how educated is this guy? Seems more like just another media hound/whore. Shitting on us when its good for him, and then when the mountain of bullshit starts falling, his just doesn’t want to get caught in the landslide he helped build up. A real apology would help his image a lot.

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