Pubdate: Sat, 10 Aug 2013
Source: Morning Sun (Mt. Pleasant, MI)
Copyright: 2013 Morning Sun


NEW YORK (AP) - CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta says he spoke too soon in
opposing the medical use of marijuana in the past and that he now
believes the drug can have very real benefits for people with specific
health problems.

Gupta, the network's chief medical correspondent and a brain surgeon,
detailed his change of heart in an interview Friday and in an article
for CNN's website titled, "Why I changed my mind on weed." He will
narrate a documentary on the topic that will air on the network Sunday.

He wrote in Time magazine in 2009 about his opposition to laws that
would make the drug available for medical purposes. "Smoking the stuff
is not going to do your health any good," he wrote then. But Gupta
said Friday he too easily associated marijuana with "malingerers that
just wanted to get high."

Now he wants to say he's sorry.

Gupta said he didn't look hard enough at research on the topic, and
found some new research that had been done since then. He was
encouraged to look into the issue further upon meeting a 5-year-old
girl in Colorado for whom medical marijuana has sharply cut down on
the amount of seizures she had been suffering.

Time spent with her and others made him realize that medical
professionals should be responsible for providing the best care
possible, and that could include marijuana.

"We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years
in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that," he

The preponderance of the research done in the United States about
marijuana is about what harm it could do. He said he's found more
research overseas that discusses the medical benefits.

While people die regularly from prescription drug overdoses, Gupta
said he's been unable to find a documented case of death from a
marijuana overdose.

Gupta said he doesn't want people to apply his change of heart to the
issue of recreational marijuana use. As a father, he said he wouldn't
allow his children to smoke marijuana until they are adults. If they
want to, he'd urge them to wait until their mid-20s when their brains
are fully developed, because of studies that show the drug can damage
young people.

But he said a prevalent attitude that people who want to use the drug
for medicinal purposes are really interested in getting high is one of
the things that holds back the widespread use of it for health reasons.
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