In an amazing reversal, CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta changed his position on marijuana’s health benefits and apologized.
Over the last year, I have been working on a new documentary called “Weed.” The title “Weed” may sound cavalier, but the content is not.
I traveled around the world to interview medical leaders, experts, growers and patients. I spoke candidly to them, asking tough questions. What I found was stunning.
Long before I began this project, I had steadily reviewed the scientific literature on medical marijuana from the United States and thought it was fairly unimpressive. Reading these papers five years ago, it was hard to make a case for medicinal marijuana. I even wrote about this in a TIME magazine article, back in 2009, titled “Why I would Vote No on Pot.”
Well, I am here to apologize.
I apologize because I didn’t look hard enough, until now. I didn’t look far enough. I didn’t review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis.
Meet the little girl who changed his mind. Charlotte Figi is a 6 year old who suffers from Dravet Syndrome:
Dravet syndrome, also known as Severe Myoclonic Epilepsy of Infancy (SMEI), is a rare and catastrophic form of intractable epilepsy that begins in infancy. Initial seizures are most often prolonged events and in the second year of life other seizure types begin to emerge. Development remains on track initially, with plateaus and a progressive decline typically beginning in the second year of life. Individuals with Dravet syndrome face a higher incidence of SUDEP (sudden unexplained death in epilepsy) and have associated conditions, which also need to be properly treated and managed. [..]
Children with Dravet syndrome do not outgrow this condition and it affects every aspect of their daily lives.
Unless a cure or better treatments for Dravet syndrome and related epilepsies are found, individuals with these disorders face a diminished quality of life. Current treatment options are extremely limited and the prognosis for these children is poor. The constant care and supervision of an individual with such highly specialized needs is emotionally and financially draining on the family members who care for these individuals.
Long Search For 6-Year-Old’s Seizure Relief Ends With Medical Marijuana
Nicole Flatlow, Think Progress
Before she started using medical marijuana, Charlotte Figi was suffering from seizures lasting 2 to 4 hours that landed her in the hospital and several times stopped her heart. She lost the ability to walk, talk, and eat, and her parents said their goodbyes on several occasions. Doctors had her on seven different potent, addictive medications; they had her on a special diet. But each time, the benefits were only temporary, and the side effects were overwhelming.
Charlotte’s mother, Paige Figi, had voted against the Colorado medical marijuana ballot initiative that passed in 2000. But after doing some research, she and her husband Matt changed their minds. They found a video of a young boy in California who suffered dramatic seizures and whose life had been changed by a strain of medical marijuana. [..]
To find a steady supply of the substance, they turned to brothers known as the “Robin Hoods of marijuana” who ask patients to donate only what they can. Forty-one other patients with seizures and cancer are now using the strain that’s been named Charlotte’s Web for its first user.
Now Charlotte is feeding herself, walking, and riding her bike. She usually only has one seizure a day, and usually in her sleep. [..]
But the Figis are lucky enough to live in one of the 20 states where medical marijuana is legal, which largely insulates them even from federal criminal prosecution. Suppliers of medical marijuana in these states, however, are not immune from criminal crackdowns, even when they are seeming models for compliance with state law. A recent survey found that the overwhelming majority of U.S. doctors – 76 percent – would prescribe medical marijuana to their patients.
In all my 30 plus years in Emergency Medicine, I have never treated a patient for a marijuana overdose. Yet, I have treated patients whose only relief from pain of glaucoma, or the side effects of drug therapy for AIDS or cancer chemotherapy was marijuana.
Please support the legalization and fight for marijuana reform nation wide.