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Gupta: 'I am doubling down' on medical marijuana

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Weed 2: Cannabis Madness!

I applaud his courage for taking a stand:

It's been eight months since I last wrote about medical marijuana, apologizing for having not dug deeply into the beneficial effects of this plant and for writing articles dismissing its potential. I apologized for my own role in previously misleading people, and I feel very badly that people have suffered for too long, unable to obtain the legitimate medicine that may have helped them.

I have been reminded that a true and productive scientific journey involves a willingness to let go of established notions and get at the truth, even if it is uncomfortable and even it means having to say "sorry."

It is not easy to apologize and take your lumps, but this was never about me.

This scientific journey is about a growing number of patients who want the cannabis plant as a genuine medicine, not to get high.

It is about emerging science that not only shows and proves what marijuana can do for the body but provides better insights into the mechanisms of marijuana in the brain, helping us better understand a plant whose benefits have been documented for thousands of years. This journey is also about a Draconian system where politics override science and patients are caught in the middle.

We need politicians who are as brave as Dr. Gupta to take charge of policy decisions when it comes to marijuana for medicinal purposes. Declassify it as a schedule I substance for scientific research please!!

This is why it's important for Dr. Gupta to double down: 

I am more convinced than ever that it is irresponsible to not provide the best care we can, care that often may involve marijuana.

I am not backing down on medical marijuana; I am doubling down.

I should add that, although I've taken some heat for my reporting on marijuana, it hasn't been as lonely a position as I expected. Legislators from several states have reached out to me, eager to inform their own positions and asking to show the documentary to their fellow lawmakers.

I've avoided any lobbying, but of course it is gratifying to know that people with influence are paying attention to the film. One place where lawmakers saw a long clip was Georgia, where the state House just passed a medical marijuana bill by a vote of 171-4. Before the legislative session started, most people didn't think this bill had a chance.

More remarkable, many doctors and scientists, worried about being ostracized for even discussing the potential of marijuana, called me confidentially to share their own stories of the drug and the benefit it has provided to their patients. I will honor my promise not to name them, but I hope this next documentary will enable a more open discussion and advance science in the process.

Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance, defined as "the most dangerous" drugs "with no currently accepted medical use."

Neither of those statements has ever been factual. Even many of the most ardent critics of medical marijuana don't agree with the Schedule I classification, knowing how it's impeded the ability to conduct needed research on the plant.

Even the head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Dr. Nora Volkow, seems to have softened her stance; she told me she believes we need to loosen restrictions for researchers.

Along the way, the public has become intensely engaged. Our collective society has paid closer attention to this issue than ever before, and with that increased education, support for medical marijuana has only grown, including in some unexpected places.

Pete Carroll, the coach of the Super Bowl-winning Seattle Seahawks, said the National Football League should explore medical marijuana if it helps players. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell hasn't dismissed the idea, saying that if marijuana is reconsidered by the medical establishment, the league would treat it the same as any other medicine. Goodell also says the NFL is following the science that suggests marijuana may help recovery from concussions.

When society looks back a hundred years from now they're going to be very sad that a potentially awesome medicine was considered illegal for almost a century.

The United States already owns a patent?!

Recently, I had the chance to tell him that the United States already holds a patent on medical marijuana for that very purpose. Patent No. 6630507: Cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke or trauma.

However, this particular issue still bothers me: How can the government deny the benefits of medical marijuana even as it holds a patent for those very same benefits? Members of the Food and Drug Administration declined my repeated requests for an interview.

This past year, President Barack Obama told the New Yorker magazine, "I don't think (marijuana) is more dangerous than alcohol." And yet, as alcohol remains available to any adult, the president has not moved to remove marijuana from the list of the most tightly controlled substances in the country.

I hope Obama gets more courage to do the right thing soon and change the U.S. policy.

Yeah medicine!

We are talking about a medicine, known scientifically as cannabis. In order for people to start thinking of this substance as a medicine, perhaps we should start calling it by its medical name, something that was suggested to me by medical marijuana advocates pretty much everywhere I went this year.

I've tried to pull together these latest developments in our new documentary, "Cannabis Madness." Although the 1936 film "Reefer Madness" was propaganda made to advance an agenda with dramatic falsehoods and hyperbole, I hope you will find "Cannabis Madness" an accurate reflection of what is happening today, injected with the best current science.

Yeah science!!

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