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 apologise for my own role in that.’
Dr Gupta says that marijuana has been classed as a ‘schedule one’ drug in the U.S. since 1970 and that this is only the case because there was not sufficient evidence to suggest that it was safe.
He argues that it was not banned because of medical evidence, but because of the lack of it.