Dr. Sanjay Gupta and His Views on Cannabis

Stephen Andrews
25 Oct 2023

In case you don’t know him yet, Dr. Sanjay Gupta is a famous neurosurgeon as well as medical reporter. He is actually the chief medical correspondent for CNN. So, during his career, he has had quite the audience to influence with his insights and expert opinion. Gupta was not on board with medical cannabis from the start, but he did something that changed his mind and then he went on to challenge the common narrative that weed is bad. Seeing that coming from a high-profile medical practitioner at a crucial point for legalization has done a great deal for destigmatizing cannabis.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta was initially against the use of weed. Back in 2009, he was defiant, taking a stance where he said he would vote no for it. But a lot of time has passed since then, and things have evolved. 

The neurosurgeon changed his mind after checking the science. But to do that, he had to travel outside the USA and speak with other medical authorities and experts. He also met with cannabis patients, including children who suffered from terrible seizures. Why did he extensively search for more evidence on the therapeutic value of cannabis? He was unimpressed with the scientific literature on medicinal marijuana in the U.S. in the first place.

His impressions were that the U.S. had a “very biased set of data” when it came to cannabis, he shared in an interview with the Joe Rogan Experience back in 2021. Indeed, looking back, most of the U.S. literature has focused on the potential harms from cannabis use rather than any benefits. 

From No-Believer to Dedicated Researcher on Cannabis 

Around 2013, Dr. Gupta was working on his first documentary film, titled “Weed.” By that time, he was very well convinced that cannabis is unfairly placed in the Schedule I group, where substances are deemed to have no medicinal quality and pose a high risk of abuse. He actually acknowledged that sometimes cannabis is “the only thing that works.” 

“Take the case of Charlotte Figi, who I met in Colorado. She started having seizures soon after birth. By age 3, she was having 300 a week, despite being on several different medications. Medical marijuana has calmed her brain, limiting her seizures to 2 or 3 per month,” Gupta wrote in one of his pieces for CNN back in 2013. 

“I have seen more patients like Charlotte first hand, spent time with them and come to the realization that it is irresponsible not to provide the best care we can as a medical community, care that could involve marijuana,” he continued. 

Ten years later, fortunately, medicinal cannabis is available in most states around the U.S. It’s eligible not only for seizures, but for a range of other diseases. 

Gupta returned to the topic of cannabis as recently as last summer. “While it is not something that will work for everyone, that should not mean it isn’t available to anyone,” he wrote for CNN

Diving in the topics from his latest documentary, “Weed 7: A Senior Moment,” his most recent production aims to explore cannabis use among an age group that was traditionally all against marijuana. 

“People who grew up during the war on drugs and were in the formative years of their life when they experienced the impact of ‘Reefer Madness’ are now willing to try cannabis, often for the first time,” Gupta wrote.

“More often than not, according to recent studies, seniors use cannabis daily to help address some of the nuisances of aging: poor sleep, aches and pains, mood,” he continues. “And they regularly prefer it over the other medications they were often prescribed, such as sleeping pills, antidepressants and even opioids.”

Gupta is someone who has bravely challenged the narrative that cannabis is harmful. His continuation with cannabis research and filming documentaries about it is also very exciting. It’s galvanizing contemporary science around the plant medicine. In the end, it may all help to put the U.S. in the same rank of cannabis research as other countries who decided to study marijuana extensively a long time ago. 

In case you still have someone in your close circle who is still not convinced about cannabis, tell them to be more like Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Do the research, talk with the people who use it, and see first-hand how it helps them. 

Also read on Soft Secrets:

How Would Steve DeAngelo Reimagine Cannabis?

Seth Rogen, America's Favorite Stand-up Stoner

Gallup Asks Americans on Marijuana, Tobacco Use

Stephen Andrews