Dr. Gupta: We have been 'systematically misled' on marijuana

WASHINGTON, August 9, 2013 – People battling insomnia, neuralgia, neuropathy, type II diabetes and the ill effects of cancer treatment will accept Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s apology. 

Dr. Gupta writes on CNN.com that “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.” 

In a stunning reversal of a decades long belief that marijuana should be classified as a schedule 1 substance that is not only addictive but could lead to death, marijuana, or cannabis, is being recognized for the natural, and effective, medicine that it is. 

Yes, medicine. 

Speaking of a young patient who suffered from debilitating and life threatening seizures up to 300 times per week not controllable with prescription drugs, but were reduced to occasional seizures through the use of marijuana, Dr. Gupta said “…it is irresponsible not to provide the best care we can as a medical community, care that could involve 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.” 


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Cannabinoids, which produce the “high” associated with marijuana use, are comprised of 483 known identifiable chemicals with 85 cannabinoids being isolated. Out of all of those only tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are produced in any large quantity, with THC creating the high associated with marijuana use. 

Plants are grown to create flowers, or buds, that have high concentrations of THC. 

British researchers using Delphic analysis in 2007 found that cannabis has a lower dependence risk factor than either nicotine or alcohol.  In addition “withdrawal” from use has very mild, non life-threatening symptoms that include irritability and insomnia.

Dr. Gupta points out in his article that a 1944 study performed by the NY Academy of Science concluded that marijuana use did not lead to addiction, nor is it a “gateway drug” leading to the use of morphine, heroin or cocaine. 


SEE RELATED: Myopic Mayor Bloomberg: Medical marijuana is a hoax


“We now know that while estimates vary, marijuana leads to dependence in around 9 to 10% of its adult users,” Dr. Gupta says “By comparison, cocaine, a schedule 2 substance “with less abuse potential than schedule 1 drugs” hooks 20% of those who use it. Around 25% of heroin users become addicted.

The worst is tobacco, where the number is closer to 30% of smokers, many of whom go on to die because of their addiction.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has admitted that cannabis can have positive effects in the treatment of medical conditions such as glaucoma, AIDS wasting, neuropathic pain, spasticity from multiple sclerosis and the nausea associated with chemotherapy. 

Additional benefits are being found in the treatment of allergies, inflammation, infections, epilepsy, depression, bipolar and anxiety disorder, and as a treatment aid in the dependency and withdrawal of drugs, cigarettes and alcohol, all of which are known addictives and killers. 

Cannabis is also found to be useful in reducing tics, such as those found in OCD and Tourette’s syndrome sufferers. There are studies being conducted on the effect of cannabis in preventing Alzheimer’s disease and arterial blockages that lead to stroke and heart attacks. 

For millions of sufferers of type II diabetes, which includes high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and neuropathic pain, all of which are treated by diet, exercise and, for now, invasive medicines that carry a laundry list of side effects from upset stomach to a medley of cancers, marijuana use is shown to reduce heart disease and stroke risks; lower bad cholesterol; reduce, if not eliminate quality of life threatening and sleep disturbing neuropathic pain; and reduce blood sugars. 

Aside from its medicinal use, the stems of the plant have long been harvested for use as “hemp” which refers to any use of the plant that is non-drug. For more than 12,000 years, hemp fiber has been used for a variety of products such as paper, cording, construction materials and textiles. Hemp is stronger and longer lasting than cotton, making it a preferred choice for clothing. The product is also a food including hemp milk, seeds, and oils and as a bio-fuel. 

The use of medical marijuana has now been approved in 20 states and the District of Columbia. While there will continue to be a market for those that prefer the high, the benefits to those whose use of marijuana, over chemical drugs, is liable to increase.

Watch Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s groundbreaking documentary “WEED” at 8 p.m. ET August 11 on CNN.

 


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Jacquie Kubin

Jacquie Kubin is an award winning journalist that began writing in 1993 following a successful career in marketing and advertising in Chicago.  She started Communities Digital News in 2009 as a way to adapt to the changing online journalism marketing place.  Jacquie is President and Managing Editor of Communities Digital News, LLC and a frequent contributor to The Washington Times Communities as well as a member of the National Association of Professional Woman, New American Foundation and the Society of Professional Journalist.  Email Jacquie here

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