High-Profile US Doc Goes From Anti to Pro Weed

Liz Filmer
27 Oct 2023

CNN's chief medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta, wasn't always a medical cannabis advocate. Still, things changed when he sought out the scientific evidence.

To find the scientific evidence that eventually persuaded him of the therapeutic potential of cannabis, he had to look further afield than the U.S. because of the " biased set of data" that appears to exist in the U.S. that concentrated almost solely on the possible harms of cannabis rather than benefits.

Scientists outside of the U.S. appeared to be approaching things differently and exploring potential therapeutic applications for cannabis for ailments like pain and seizures. This, mixed with witnessing the measurable influence that cannabinoids could have on children who have severe epilepsy, changed Gupta's mind completely. As a result, in 2013, he decided to make his change of heart public by composing an article for CNN clarifying why his mindset had pivoted from being a cannabis cynic to a supporter.

This was back when the first states had begun legalising marijuana for recreational use for adults. This move was compelling people to assess the importance of ending prohibition. An article penned by a high-profile physician that contested the image of cannabis being all bad may have played a big part in changing opinions at a pivotal time.

Gupta also hosted a CNN docu-series called "Weed", exploring the science and real-world experiences of those who've witnessed significant health benefits from cannabis.

When questioned on the famous Joe Rogan podcast about his beliefs, the host told Gupta that he "really respected his change of opinion publicly."

"When you were first talking about marijuana, you were talking about it as if it had no medical benefit and it was just a recreational drug that was possibly or probably harmful, but then, upon further examination, you publicly changed your position, and, in doing so, you examined all the scientific evidence. I admired that because that takes a lot of courage. I thought that's a real, real thinking person who is trying to honestly figure out what's going on instead of just working on being right.'"

Rogan is a well-known advocate for drug policy reform. He often discusses the issues and legality surrounding drugs, including psychedelics and cannabis, with his guests.

Tech mogul Elon Musk got much attention after smoking a blunt with Rogan on the show in 2018. In 2019, former boxer Mike Tyson spoke with Rogan about tripping on psychedelics and smoking weed. 

It's not just celebs that he has on, either. Senator Bernie Sanders has also talked to Rogan about his support for marijuana legalisation. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) was also a guest on the podcast and spoke about the need for cannabis reform. 

The podcaster has also disputed the values of cannabis legalisation with  Republican congressman Rep. Dan Crenshaw (D-TX), who eventually relented and agreed that medical cannabis should be federally legal.

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Liz Filmer