Sanjay Gupta, MD, neurosurgeon and multi-Emmy Award winning chief medical correspondent for CNN, published an open letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions reflecting his five-year long study into the medical benefits of the cannabis plant. While research at the national level has been restricted by the federal stance of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug (of no medical benefit, and highly addictive), Gupta conducted his own research with patients and fellow scientists. In his letter, he advocates for marijuana to be made available nationally for use in medicine.
Gupta’s primary thrust is for the use of medical marijuana as a replacement for opioids as the nation battles an opioid epidemic which claims up to 45,000 lives annually. In research conducted by the Rand Corporation, supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it was found that in states where marijuana was legalized, there were an average 20% fewer deaths from opioid overdose, suggesting that over 10,000 lives could be saved per year if cannabis were more readily available.
“Cannabis and its compounds show potential to save lives in three important ways.