By Bruce Mirken
Last night, as part of the ongoing “AC 360″ series on
marijuana, Dr. Sanjay Gupta weighed in on marijuana’s medical benefits
and health risks. The transcript of the show is here(scroll down about 2/3 through the page to get to Dr. Gupta).
It’s no secret that we haven’t always been thrilled by CNN’s
coverage, but Gupta — given time constraints that inevitably truncated
his answers a bit — gave a balanced, accurate assessment of the science
of marijuana that was remarkably solid, much more so than one usually
sees on TV. Among other things, Gupta explained about the cannabinoid
receptors in the human brain and noted:
For example, someone who’s having terrible malnourishment or
terrible nausea as a result of chemotherapy or the effect of HIV/AIDS,
using marijuana could stimulate appetite. Neuropathic pain, Anderson,
something I deal with quite a bit as a neurosurgeon. It’s that
lancinating nerve pain that’s often caused by trauma or some sort of
injury or surgery. Sometimes it can be very refractive to pain
medications. Marijuana can help there, as well.
Multiple sclerosis, something else that I treat. That’s
something that can cause significant tremors, for example. Marijuana
Gupta did discuss pulmonary risks of smoking and the possibility of
dependence, but in a factual, non-hysterical way that made it clear
that dependence rates for marijuana are far lower than for other drugs,
There were rumors for a while that Dr. Gupta might be appointed U.S. Surgeon General. I’m starting to wish he’d gotten the job.