Sunday, August 11, 2013

CNN's Gupta changes mind on medical use of and decriminalization of "Weed"

Sunday night, CNN aired Sanjay Gupta’s “Weed: Special Report” and rep-examines his own position as a physician on marijuana use, especially medical marijuana.  Sanjay’s own link (including a video) explaining why he changed his own position is here. Gupta even admit's "I've tried pot." 
   
Gupta takes us to a secret marijuana growing greenhouse high in the Colorado Rockies (where it is legal according to state law), and showed some special plants that combine cannibas of various strains with other substances that seem to have medical benefits.
  
He showed a 19 year old man with hiccoughs, and THC controls it, when no other medication does. Gupta examines the issue of driving a car when having used, and finds that habitual users sometimes have fewer problems with incapacitation than new users.  It's not clear if there could be a "safe" level of THC when driving, as is common with alcohol regulation.

Later, he shows a small girl whose epilepsy is brought under control when no other medication worked, and she starts eating normally (she had been tubefed) and goes back to school.

The documentary actually starts with presenting the little girl, Charlotte.  It then traces the history of marijuana, which was prescribed legally until 1930.Harry Anslinger found that he could exploit the public fear of drugs for political purposes (explained here).  The substance in the cannibas plant that controls seizures, Cannabidiol, is not mind altering and probably could be manufactured if legal and sold; it would seem then that pharmaceutical companies would have a new motivation to keep the plant illegal bu substances extracted from it, at cost to consumer and for corporate profits, legal.  Charlotte needed only the Cannabidiol, and without specific medication available, needed a variety of plant high in Cannabidiol and as low in THC as possible, so it had to be especially grown.  The family in Colorado was the only source of this possible plant. The family at first did not want to give the plant to a young child.

The show mentions that NIH and some other authorities don't recognize the medicinal value even of cannabidiol.  That doesn't make much sense now. 
       
Gupta also shows research that shows how marijuana affects the prefrontal cortex in the brain. If taken before adulthood, it can cause lower IQ’s and less cognitive function.  For artists, that would mean less, not more, creativity. 

Marijuana is often more concentrated today. Although science shows it less "addictive" than many other substances, the body develops tolerance and cannot easily console itself with naturally occurring brain chemistry if using the drug.  Users tell me that it intensifies senses, especially visual details.  I've tried it only maybe twice in NYC, once in New Mexico on a camping trip in 1980, with no effect at all. 
  
But it does seem effective in treatment of many illnesses.  Israel is sponsoring research in even more areas, such as some cancers – as a primary chemotherapy, not just to control nausea.  It seems to be effective with Parkinsonism. 

The question is why THC can’t be prescribed where medically appropriate and regulated like any other drug requiring supervision and prescription.

  
As recently as five years ago, Gupta had said he would vote against decriminalizing marijuana. 
  
At least one friend used it in 1980 “off the street” to prevent nausea when on bleomycin and cis-platinum for testicular cancer, and he says it worked perfectly. 
 

Update: July 13, 2014

Giupta aired "Weed 2", a second hour of documentary, following up on some patients.  More states have expanded medical marijuana but patients cannot cross state lines.  In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie shut down the expansion.  One family had to move to Colorado. 

Picture: just wild grape, perfectly legal. 

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