U.S.: Dr. Gupta Doubling Down On Medical Marijuana With Another Documentary
By Steve Elliott
Dr. Sanjay Gupta changed the landscape of the medical marijuana debate last year with his groundbreaking CNN documentary, "Weed," which drew attention everywhere from parents to the halls of Congress. At 10 p.m. on Tuesday, March 11, Dr. Gupta returns with a second, hour-long documentary on the health benefits of cannabis.
Dr. Gupta will narrate the show, which will include sick children and their parents struggling for safe access to medical marijuana despite legal barriers caused by state and federal laws. The show will also discuss how cannabis can ease the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, arthritis, cancer, epilepsy and other diseases.
"We think it'll be another big deal across our country, and hopefully even in other parts of the world where they are thinking about changing their laws," said Heidi Parikh of Romulus, Michigan, founder of the Michigan Compassion education groups, reports Bill Laitner at the Detroit Free Press.
"If you want to understand the science, this is something you'll want to watch," Dr. Gupta told the Free Press on Monday. "The drug continues to be unfairly rejected by most of the American medical establishment and by government drug regulators."
"My sense as a doctor is that people have an option now, something that actually was an option until the the 1940s (when the federal government made marijuana illegal)," Dr. Gupta said. "There's a lot of evidence now that this not only works for many ailments but if oten works when nothing else has."
While Dr. Gupta said he remains opposed to exposing young people to cannabis, and he hedged when asked about legalization, calling that an issue for a future show. But he said medical marijuana clearly has a major role to play in battling seizure disorders, as well as in safe pain control and many other medicinal uses.
"If you look at the science, you don't see the longer-term side effects (in adults who use marijuana) that you see in someone whose brain is still developing," Dr. Gupta said. According to Gupta, brain development is incomplete in most young adults all the way to age 25, so the use of both cannabis and alcohol should be strictly limited before then.
"Traditionally, we consider 21 to be the age of adulthood," Dr. Gupta said. "But research clearly shows that our brains are still developing at 21."
Gupta said that many illness just don't respond well to traditional, existing, FDA-approved pharmaceuticals.
"The American Epilepsy Foundation says there's about a million patients out there who aren't getting relief from their seizures," Dr. Gupta pointed out.
Graphic: A Sheep No More