Dr. Gupta, who has done a complete 180 on his previous marijuana stance, says he was misinformed and didn’t look hard enough at all of the research.
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.
Although he should have known better, he can hardly be blamed for his ignorance when it comes to marijuana. Since first becoming illegal during the 1920s/30s there has been an organized effort to make sure the American public stayed as uninformed, or rather misinformed, on the subject as possible. The basic, honest truth is that, just like most drugs that are now illegal, it began as an early form of subjugation and racism.
Twentieth-century cannabis prohibition first reared its head in countries where white minorities ruled black majorities: South Africa, where it’s known as dagga, banned it in 1911, and Jamaica, then a British colony, outlawed ganja in 1913. They were followed by Canada, Britain and New Zealand, which added cannabis to their lists of illegal narcotics in the 1920s. Canada’s pot law was enacted in 1923, several years before there were any reports of people actually smoking it there. It was largely the brainchild of Emily F. Murphy, a feminist but racist judge who wrote anti-Asian, anti-marijuana rants under the pseudonym “Janey Canuck.”
In the United States, marijuana prohibition began partly as a throw-in on laws restricting opiates and cocaine to prescription-only use, and partly in Southern and Western states and cities where blacks and Mexican immigrants were smoking it. Missouri outlawed opium and hashish dens in 1889, but did not actually prohibit cannabis until 1935. Massachusetts began restricting cannabis in its 1911 pharmacy law, and three other New England states followed in the next seven years.
Think about the absurdity of the fact that marijuana is illegal in a country where alcohol and cigarettes are legal and federally regulated. Alcohol is responsible for around 75,000 deaths a year. That number only includes the number of people who died from alcohol related illnesses such as cirrhosis of the liver and deaths due to alcohol related car crashes. If you were to factor in the number of violent crimes committed while under the influence of alcohol that number would grow dramatically. Not to mention regular, heavy alcohol use cuts an average of 30 years off of your life.
Cigarettes are responsible responsible for a whopping 443,000 some deaths a year, according to the CDC.
Deaths related to marijuana each year? Zero.