A leading U.S. doctor who was opposed to the medicinal use of cannabis says that he has changed his mind after investigating medical marijuana further.
Dr Sanjay Gupta travelled the world interviewing weed experts, producers and patients, while making a documentary called ‘Weed’.
He says that before he started the project, he was ‘unimpressed’ by the scientific literature on medical marijuana.
However, he says that he now wants to apologise for holding this opinion, CNN reports.
Dr Gupta says he believes that he had not previously considered all of the arguments and that, now that he has, he has changed him mind on the topic.
Dr Gupta says that his research has led him to believe that marijuana does have important medicinal properties and that medicinal marijuana use does not come with a high potential for abuse – both things that are denied by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.
He draws on the example of a girl called Charlotte Figi, from Colorado, who was having 300 seizures a week when she was three.
Charlotte took seven different drugs every day but they failed to stop the seizures.
Then she started taking medicinal marijuana, and her brain was calmed sufficiently that she now only has two or three fits a month.
Dr Gupta says that meeting people like Charlotte has made him realised that it is ‘irresponsible’ not to provide marijuana as a medicine.
He wrote for CNN: ‘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 apologies for my own role in that.’
Dr Gupta claims that there is little evidence to suggest that the potential for abuse is a reason to ban it.
He explained that 30 per cent of people who smoke become addicted to tobacco, which is legal, while only 10 per cent of marijuana users become addicted.
He went on to say that medical marijuana should not be banned because of its withdrawal symptoms because they are not nearly as severe as the withdrawal symptoms that alcoholics can experience, as these can be life threatening.
Dr Gupta does, however, say that he has one concern about cannabis.
He worries that young people’s developing brains can be harmed by it – with regularly use during the teenage years causing a decrease in IQ and even, possibly, psychosis.
For this reason, he says that he would not let his own children take marijuana until they were adults.
Dr Gupta believes that only about six per cent of studies into weed in the U.S. look at the benefits of the drug, while the rest investigate the dangers of it.
As a result, he believes that the evidence is unfairly skewed towards the view that the drug is harmful.
He believes that it is too difficult for scientists to study the effects of marijuana as it is hard to access the drug, and hard to get approval for the research.
He goes on to say that in the U.S. someone dies from a prescription drug overdose every 19 minute,s while he was unable to find a single example of someone dying from a cannabis overdose.
By: Emma Innes | DailyMail