Is cannabis a gateway drug, or a gateway to recovery? Join me in 1 hour (8pET) on CNN for “Weed 4: Pot vs. Pills.” And, chat with me live during the show… Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon who serves as CNN’s chief medical correspondent, has fallen prey to a social media deat Sanjay Gupta CBD Oil In early March, CNN released Weed 2: Cannabis Madness, the second documentary program from its Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta, MD, devoted exclusively to the
I just watched this and thank you. I have 10 illnesses and was in pain daily. I could not take most pain medicine, because i was allergic to most of them. I started medical marijuana and it was amazing. The week I started the marijuana I was going to get cortisone shots, I canceled the appointment. I no longer was in pain. It also helped with my anxiety.
Dear Mrs. Bakonyi,
The medical committee reviewed the case:
· Dr. James Goodrich, Director Pediatric Neurosurgery Department
· Dr. David Cancel, Director Pediatric Rehabilitation Department
· Dr. Anthony Casale, Chief of Pediatric Urology Department
· Dr. Nadia Ovchinsky, Director of Pediatric Hepatology Department
· Dr. Norman Otsuka, Chief of Pediatric Orthopedic
The medical team all see that the pt will need extensive work and will require being seen by multidisciplina ry teams and he will require braces and orthopedic surgery.
Having said this it is too hard to supply the whole time estimated for treatment and the whole plan of care until the pt is physically assessed in the hospital by the team members.
The estimated cost for such highly sophisticated case will range in $500,000 and payments will be processed in advance and the Hospital will supply itemized invoices for every service rendered.
Please advise if anything is required to further address your needs and please feel free to email me back with any inquiries
Irene Gebrael, PhD
Director Montefiore International Department
Cell +1 646-531-6542
I used cannabis to help when I quit methamphetamine . Nothing else. It was super hard, but the cannabis helped ALOT! I would like to know your thoughts on ibogaine.
I was so excited to see your segment on Dr Oz about this today. My son is a recovering heroin addict and marijuana has saved his life . He has always said that pot was the answer to opiate addiction and he talked about rehab clinics needed to look in to this. I desperately await the day where weed is legal for him!
I heard it is good for Memory. Is it? I supposedly have an ‘Over Active Immune System that has been the cause of my Seizures and that there is no way to get it corrected. And from what current Doctors say, I’m going to be on Medications for LIFE. Is there any place where i would be able to get this, ‘CBD Oil’ for cheap? You should already know that this is not covered by the insurance company
saw this on CNN, i decided to let go of some of my Pain Meds, and focus on wellness and improve my quality of life..love the info and education. Thank you for your work,
God bless you all we need to stand to gether to get this done Dr. Sanjay Gupta will be very pleased to see the notes from you all just a tv station about me doing a story on how this does work how it heals not being a dr icant say what it heals but it does heal and i have just be come a distributor for cbd for the ones who really need it if i have my way it will be free but got find some way to raise money for thoes who need it blessings thank you for the notes keep them comming please
Don’t take painkillers for longer than absolutely necessary. The problem doesn’t lie with opioids. It lies with over-prescribin g it and doctors being manipulated by their patients. They are willingly being manipulated because they’re making money off these patients and they get rewarded by drug companies. Come to Korea to see how drugs are being prescribed and controlled by government and medical rules and regulations. Too many Americans are walking around in a phased out condition because of uncontrolled use and prescription of drugs. Give appropriate medication for an appropriate length of time and then STOP it. Stop depending on drugs and start checking out your diet and habits. Eat well, live well.
Sanjay. POT is not for everyone. and being addicted to opioid is because oxicodon is cheap and unrefined.
Dr. Gupta – kudos for your report on CBD oil. We can get a referral here in Canada for use which I did and it is extremely helpful for inflammation which has greatly reduced my pain from R.A. I got my daughter to watch your documentary and she has posted it on her Facebook account. Keep up the great work.
Susi and I are not in the habit of blasting out personal information and “causes we believe in”. However now we would like to share part of our story with you because we feel that is time for us to take a committed stance to this issue.
In 2003 I was diagnosed with bi-lateral kidney cancer. The cancer was removed, as well as all of my right kidney and 2/3 of my left kidney. Which was estimated to be enough for me to survive without dialysis. The procedure was successful but left me with some pretty severe scarring and hernias. The procedure was done at Mayo in Jacksonville FL. After the surgeries we moved back to IL. in 2004. In 2004 I had another surgery at Mayo in Rochester MN to remove a non-cancerous pituitary tumor. Complications from that surgery left me with 110 lbs. of weight gain due to what the doctor called a “metabolic crash”, in other words it took only maybe 600 calories a day for me to function instead of the 2500 or so I was eating before the surgery.
I do take some responsibility in this, I could have maybe done more about the weight gain and the high blood pressure that eventually led to my ultimate kidney failure but we just were not aware or informed of what was going on with everything I had going on! My first follow-up after the pituitary surgery was several months and many pounds later. Through the years I have worked to lose the excess weight and find ways to deal with the pain associated with kidney loss and dialysis.
My remaining kidney stopped working in 2012 and I started dialysis in 2012. Then started to look into a transplant…over the last five years we have been looking to qualify for a transplant. I lost 130 lbs. and have worked on other aspects of my health. I qualified at Mayo Rochester for a transplant and now they deny it because I use Medical Marijuana…MM has let me eliminate 4 prescription drugs and reduced the amount of opioid pain killer use by ¾. Last time I watched the news, opioid use is a major problem in our country and I know when I have to use them I feel a lot of negative effects. In addition, NO ONE has ever died from a marijuana overdose. Just have a good night sleep. Even Medicare recognizes that there has been a decline in opioids & other prescription drugs due to Medical Marijuana!
We do realize that there are many things in the world to address, many injustices, much suffering and a whole lot of disagreement about how, what and who…This is one thing that we have faced that we feel is a true injustice.
Attached you will find a piece of the rejection letter from Mayo and a copy of my response. I do not expect your support on this, but I would ask that you keep an open mind and at least consider our story, just give it some thought. Personally, I am going to do everything I can to address this issue in this country… In the end it may be too late for me, however, hopefully someone in the future will be able to benefit if this injustice is addressed and people using MM are not discriminated against. Thank you for your time and at least considering our stance and listening to our story.
Thank you Dr. I have been reading about CBD oil, and the marvelous things it does. However, there are many distributors of this oil. Is there a brand that you would recommend or someone reading this?
I watched your weed4 special and it was FACINATING and most informative – Thank You! Perhaps you could suggest to that football player ( I forget his name) since he can’t get an NFL exemption, perhaps he could come to the Canadian football league (CFL). Marijuana is about to be legalized in Canada this summer so he wouldn’t have to use opioids to play. I find it ironic that the NFL who are against marijuana because it would influence youngsters will instead encourage opioids. One certainly doesn’t see marijuana caused deaths anywhere as opposed to the opioid crisis in the US (and to some degree Canada).
If weed helps with memory in Alzheimer’s disease, how do we reconcile that with the fact that it damages short term memory?
Sanjay, you touched on the possibility that weed might mitigate the affects of Alzheimer’s disease. Can you please cover that topic more in your next episode? Such an important and miraculous possibility should not be overlooked, and deserves more than thirty seconds in your episode if it’s true. The curt treatment of that topic leaves me to belief it’s a myth and cannot be true. Please, interview researchers in the field of cannibus and Alzheimer’s. Thank you!
Your so right on with this study been working with troops we find that all the people i ve talk with say the the same thing today iwanted to talk about a new and exciting Therapy its called higher self Therapy, we have for years known that we are all Spirual Beings having a Human Experinence now there is proof DR Jeffery SMITH IN VISTA CAL A marine jet fighter pilot went bavk to school and is Breaking ground on this matter ck him out 760 207 6617 tell josephvarley said to call
In my opinion Dr. Gupta and the rest of those leading the war on “the opioid crisis” are negatively affecting those who live in chronic pain. Dr. Gupta neglected to mention that those who die from opioid usually die from fentanyl mixed with something else, even pot. In his TV episode Dr. Gupta labeled chronic pain sufferers as addicts. Using medication for pain does not make one an addict. Addicts take pain medication to get high. Chronic pain sufferers take pain medication to maintain a quality of life not possible without the medication. Cannabis is not regulated and has not been studied to the same extent. There are few (if any) peer review studies of Cannabis and it’s effects on pain. In your episode you make it sound like opioids change the brain but your letter to Jeff Sessions suggests addiction is what changes the brain. Anecdotal stories as those told in your television show do not make up a representative sample. As a neurosurgeon I would have thought that you would be a lot more careful about the conclusions you reach and the impact those can have on patients. In my opinion Weed 4 was an irresponsible report lacking all of the aspects of ‘good’ science. If you believe Cannabis is an alternative for chronic pain sufferers then I suggest you develop a hypothesis, conduct at least one study with a control group, and then have your report reviewed by peers who are scientists. The opioid crisis, as it has been labeled, is having severe effects on those who live in pain and have not found an alternative to live their lives. I believe your oath as a doctor says you “will do no harm,” your TV episode does harm. I suggest you look next at chronic pain sufferers and calculate how many die of overdoses. I read that it is only 1%, quite a lot lower than what is reported by ‘the opioid crisis’ movement.
a woman in ireland with a young daughter was refused legal marijuana in ireland, even though when her daughter went to france for treatment, her seizures were greatly diminished .whereas, previously , she could have 30 seizures a day without marijuana in ireland. finally, she received permission to use it from the irish government after a public campaign protesting the refusal .she and her daughter had to go to france for treatment. this was an expensive stay and a hardship, separating them from family. you should be able to find her in google under vera toomey (the mother) ireland.she is a very brave mother.
Jeff Sessions needs to be voted out! He does not listen, has his mind made up, and his campaign probably is paid in some way by opioids. Thank you for your good program about cannabis. So many are in pain and the medical community has not helped a lot. CBD has helped so many.
Dr. Gupta, I have been using the CBD oil for 2 years for pain and it works great. I have a question. Can CBD oil be used for the withdrawal from Valium?
$100 for Grm of oil. Which eventually can use gram a day. who can afford that on disability and ssi. this whole thing is madnesses
They really need to get the Epidiolex in pharmacy I have such bad anxiety and severe chronic pain I need it. I’m in hypertension anxiety disorder everyday bad! N tired of the medication I have to take..I’m Mmj patient. N here disp has messed up looking CANNABIS OIL, but we can’t grow! N my heart is suffering with hypertension is not good, now I got to go to Heart Doctor who will try n push more pills..Cannabis oil cures n cleans arteries out. why this wicked government is hiding CURES is awful..people are waking up # Bigpharma .
Thank you Dr. Gupta for another powerful, informative and objective show! You are making a difference in the lives of so many. It defies logic that cannabis can still be considered a Schedule I drug by the DEA, when Cocaine and Oxycodone are only listed as Schedule II drugs.
While the benefits of medical marijuana are definetly valuable, there is still many challenges that leave users “on their own” as stated in your show. Drug interaction, doses, side effects, etc. That is why selling it in dispensaries will eventually lead to recreational use and the next opium crisis in 10 years from now.
I just watched the show ,it was great. My husband was diagnosed with 3rd stage colon cancer in 2007 and is now 57 and stage 4. Ed has a graph that shows CBD works, Eds tumor marker was over 800 and was started on chemo and the RSO that he was Blessed with by an Earth Angel. It would be great to go public somehow to prove this but we are small. Chemo makes Ed so sick and destroys all quality of life. Please wake up Doctors have told Ed he is a Miracle, Amen, Thank You Jesus. Medical Science gave him several death sentences but CBD ( RSO) Works. Thank you for listening
States and areas are with natures of drug crimes/methods with courts, and with doctors tied to them also with/as recorded tied inter-campuses databases illusion stacking, and hiding, and crime acts/roles with cases already through time, and with databases, and with identity crimes, too, their roles recorded with/as child predators, and against each age of fact treatment natures, and inter-family per all that too undercovers and agencies also recorded behind areas’s also foreign maintained criminally foreign influenced databases tied predators/drug clicks overt “gangland” drugs’s crime roles, and medical drug/tied evidences crime roles/ databases illusion stacking/ verbal federal crime/fact treatment natures/ sequence nature treatments roles. This was is using each individual, grouped, togehter, and progressively as consciously maintained sabotaged correlation nature, and defenses of that. They were/are with this behind/as their roles with foreign/ domestic formal and overtly foreign and area’s maintained juxtaposed used child predators roles, and preventing free speech, and fake news recorded using triage corruption also tied to DACA, et cetera.
I have just finished watching the Weed 4 documentary. I saw your first one as well and have continued my interest in your efforts to educate the public and our lawmakers in approving this highly effective plant for medicinal use. I would really like to see more communication and information of the use of it for dementia. Fortunately my family had the courage to try it for my late husband who was afflicted with Alzheimer’s and Lewy Body dementias. He had very extreme behaviors, mood swings, depression and hallucinations. All typical in varying degrees for dementia patients. He was not able to take the standard medications for these medical issues so we went with cannabis tinctures. He was more calm, peaceful, and controlled when on cannabis. I witnessed so many others during the years he was in memory care, of so many being given hideous, black box drugs, none of which were recommended even by the pharmaceuticals producing them. yet given out like candy just to keep dementia patients subdued or asleep. You present in such a positive manner that I think this use would be well accepted through your journalistic work. Parkinson’s is yet another that is beneficial in its use. While these dementias have no cure, I know for a fact that their lives are more peaceful when using cannabis. I did read some time ago that cannabis is used freely in nursing homes and memory care facilities in Israel. Have not seen anything since that original piece. Thank you for your hard work in this area. It is ever so long over due.
Patrick Kennedy and many more always discuss the lack of FDA approval — does everyone realize
Fluoride does not have FDA approval? Risk and harm have been proven at 76 parts per million in mice. And we apply 20,000 to children multiple times per year. Plus huge amounts of fluoride in tea, pickles, prepared foods, water .
I love the work you are doing to promote the use of medicinal marijuana and its benefits. I am a user for the past 3 years and have been able to reduce my need for opiods down to only 2 per day. I am watching Weed 4 and was so touched when one person said how much it reduced his pain. I remember when I first felt that reduction in pain, and could not remember when I was without pain. What a wonderful feeling! Keep up the good work! I stand behind you 100%.
Sanjay Gupta CBD Oil
• Dr. Sanjay Gupta is alive and appeared on CNN in the days after his alleged death.
• The death hoax in the Facebook post linked to a spam advertisement that falsely claims Gupta is the CEO of a company that sells CBD gummies.
• Similar advertisements relying on fake celebrity endorsement scams have been used to sell other cannabis products.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon who serves as CNN’s chief medical correspondent, has fallen prey to a social media death hoax.
He is alive and well, despite a post announcing, “A Tragic End Today For Our Dr. Gupta, Viewers Feel Sad About Today’s News.”
The post from Dec. 23 also linked to an article with the preview text, “End of the road for medical expert.”
It was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
Gupta is still alive. And we wish we could tell you this is ‘the end of the road’ for social media posts that falsely proclaim the deaths of people who are very much alive.
Already in 2022, Gupta has appeared on CNN to discuss the CDC’s changes to its COVID-19 isolation guidelines and on MSNBC to promote his book and discuss the long-term realities of COVID-19.
There is no mention of Gupta’s death on his official social media accounts. He has posted on Twitter in the days since Dec. 23 — including a tweet shared at about noon on Jan. 10.
A CNN spokesperson for Gupta confirmed: “Thank goodness, Sanjay is alive and well.”
There are other inaccuracies in the link the Facebook post shares.
Clicking on the link leads to what looks like a CNN article with the headline, “Big Pharma In Outrage Over Sanjay Gupta’s Latest Business Venture – He Fires Back With This!”
Sanjay Gupta CBD Oil
In early March, CNN released Weed 2: Cannabis Madness, the second documentary program from its Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta, MD, devoted exclusively to the growing interest in and legitimization of medicinal cannabis (Cannabis sativa, Cannabaceae) in the United States. 1 Dr. Gupta’s initial installment, a documentary titled Weed, was released on CNN in August of 2013. 2 The first program signified the highly respected neurosurgeon’s transformation from an opponent to an advocate of medicinal cannabis. The one-hour special was considered a potentially influential accomplishment even as it was met with some criticism from experts in the field of medicinal cannabis research.
Former HerbalGram Associate Editor Lindsay Stafford Mader, who previously covered the cannabis “beat” for the American Botanical Council’s publications, authored a critique last fall in which she evaluated the information presented (or not presented) in Weed. 3 The program, according to Mader, had a variety of deficiencies:
- It did not adequately address cannabis’ Schedule I controlled substance classification;
- It oversimplified cannabis chemistry and the effect of cannabis on children’s brains;
- It offered insufficient information on and from cannabis human clinical trials that have been conducted;
- It seemed to misrepresent Colorado’s Stanley Brothers as the first to produce a high-cannabidiol (CBD) variety of cannabis;
- It lacked pushback regarding “stonewalled therapeutic research;” and
- It possibly alienated viewers with its focus on rare conditions when individuals suffering from a number of more familiar ailments also stand to benefit from medicinal cannabis treatment. 3
With Weed 2: Cannabis Madness, Dr. Gupta has not retreated from his stance but “doubled down,” investigating further and filling in some of the gaps left in his first installment. While some critical information in Weed 2 remained underdeveloped or unaddressed altogether, these reports are reflective of the substantial shift in the majority of Americans’ views regarding the legal status of cannabis. 4
Rare Conditions in the Spotlight
Though Weed 2 features interviews with individuals who have found relief from chronic pain and multiple sclerosis symptoms through medicinal cannabis, the documentary — like its predecessor — centers on a young girl suffering from a rare, severe form of epilepsy that could prove fatal. In Weed, that child was Charlotte Figi, whose Dravet Syndrome caused hundreds of seizures per week. Once virtually catatonic, Charlotte’s life was turned around by a high-CBD, low-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the psychoactive compound that causes a “high” in users) medicinal cannabis strain that now bears her name: Charlotte’s Web. 2
Similarly, Weed 2 focuses on two-year-old Vivian Wilson and her family, who were residents of New Jersey when Dr. Gupta’s team began documenting their story. Vivian was experiencing up to 75 seizures daily. Her family’s plight for access to medicinal cannabis for her received national attention when Vivian’s father, Brian Wilson, confronted New Jersey Governor Chris Christie about the state medical cannabis program’s constraints regarding minors at a diner during a campaign-related publicity appearance. (Once considered to be the 2016 Republican presidential candidate front-runner, Governor Christie’s already-suffering image was not helped by the footage of his terse exchange with a pleading Brian Wilson that is incorporated into Weed 2: “I know you think it’s simple. It’s simple for you; it’s not simple for me,” interrupted Governor Christie.1)
Many viewers may find the documentaries’ focus on these very young children to be too exclusive or emotionally manipulative — a valid argument. On the other hand, perhaps Dr. Gupta’s intent is simply to make the most powerful case he believes possible by exposing the experiences of subjects whose existences could be most visibly improved — appropriate to the medium of television — through therapeutic medicinal cannabis treatment, subjects who cannot speak for themselves and whose suffering cannot be ascribed to unhealthful life choices.
“I have now a better appreciation of why he’s choosing to focus on children with an unusual seizure disorder in view of the fact that he himself is a neurosurgeon, so a neurologic condition is probably something that’s compatible with his area of expertise,” said Donald Abrams, MD, an integrative oncologist who studies clinical cannabis at the University of California – San Francisco (personal communication, March 27, 2014). “Also,” Dr. Abrams continued, “I think it’s very compelling to show the immediate and dramatic benefits that these children obtain in using the high-CBD cannabis.”
“Medical Marijuana Refugees”
In telling the Wilsons’ story, Dr. Gupta highlights the tragic phenomenon of so-called “medical marijuana refugees” — families who have left their home states, jobs, friends, and extended families behind in order to obtain medicinal cannabis treatment for their children in more permissive states, Colorado in particular. 1
Because cannabis is still illegal on a federal level, most people cannot bring this medicine across state lines, if it is legal for children in their state at all. In order to see if Vivian responds to medicinal cannabis — specifically to an oil made from Charlotte’s Web — Brian takes his two-year-old daughter to Colorado to establish residency, leaving Vivian’s mother and sister (Meghan and Adele Wilson, respectively) back in New Jersey. 1
In December of 2013, The New York Times reported on a community of approximately 100 families of myriad political and religious persuasions from around the country who relocated to the state of Colorado in a desperate attempt to deliver their children from unrelenting seizures. 5 In Weed 2, Dr. Gupta makes a visit to a gathering of such medical marijuana refugees in Colorado — speaking to parents from Ohio, Alabama, and Florida — and emerges heartbroken for these “trapped” families, unable to transport their children’s medicines home because they could be charged with drug trafficking and risk losing custody of their children. 5
“This is the problem I’m talking about between the federal and the state level,” said neurologist and Denver Health Comprehensive Epilepsy Program Chief Edward Maa, MD, interviewed in Weed 2. He continued: “This conflict is really driving families apart.” “That’s just crazy,” responded Dr. Gupta. 1
The Problem of Schedule I Classification
As in Weed, Weed 2 fails to place cannabis’ Schedule I designation by the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) into context by providing examples of other drugs in the category, such as heroin and LSD. 1,2 Dr. Gupta better elucidated in a CNN.com editorial published in anticipation of the sequel 6 :
“Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance, defined as ‘the most dangerous’ drugs ‘with no currently accepted medical use,’” wrote Dr. Gupta. “Neither of those statements has ever been factual. Even many of the most ardent critics of medical marijuana don’t agree with the Schedule I classification, knowing how it’s impeded the ability to conduct needed research on the plant.”
“[C]ocaine and methamphetamine are actually more available than marijuana to patients, physicians and medical researchers,” he continued. “They are Schedule II drugs, with recognized medical uses.”
To his credit, in Weed 2, Dr. Gupta does call attention to the seeming hypocrisy of cannabis’ scheduling by pointing out that since October of 2003, the federal government has held a patent on use of cannabinoids for two medicinal purposes. 1
Patent No. 6630507 is titled “Cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants.”7 The patent’s “assignee” is the United States “as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services.” According to the patent abstract, the antioxidant properties of cannabinoids make them “useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of [a] wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases,” and their function as neuroprotectants may serve to “[limit] neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.” 7
Regulation and Research
As documented in Weed 2, Vivian Wilson’s seizures dropped to only 10 per day following regular administration of Charlotte’s Web oil (as a result, the whole family ultimately relocates to Colorado). 1 Viewers also witness the contrast between Vivian’s seemingly decreased level of consciousness, plus poor mobility and lack of balance after receiving a dose of her pharmaceutical anti-seizure medication versus her unchanged state after being administered high-CBD cannabis oil.
Coupled with an interview with Frank Bianco, who suffers from chronic pain and turned to medicinal cannabis after his prescribed pain medication made him feel sick, Weed 2 suggests, at the very least, that its viewers should consider the intensity of the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs used to treat many of the same conditions and/or symptoms that cannabis therapy may benefit or improve with fewer unwanted or dangerous side effects. Again, Dr. Gupta’s CNN editorial takes this idea further. “[O]n average, a person dies every 19 minutes in this country from a legal prescription drug overdose,” he wrote, “while it is virtually unheard-of to die from a marijuana overdose.” 6
“In general, cannabis is very non-toxic. Unlike opiates, there is no dose of cannabis that arrests breathing, and there is a reason for this,” said Ethan Russo, MD, president of the International Cannabinoid Research Society and a senior medical advisor to GW Pharmaceuticals (email, March 27, 2014). “Most side effects of cannabis usage are attributable to THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient, which can certainly cause anxiety, panic and even temporary toxic psychosis when too much is taken, or an individual is naïve to its effects, or is simply sensitive to them.”
“However, THC works in these instances because it binds to the CB1 cannabinoid receptor in the brain,” explained Dr. Russo. “This receptor is not present in the breathing regulatory centers in the medulla (lower brainstem), and thus THC cannot produce apnea (breathing cessation). Similarly, cannabinoids have little or no end-organ toxicity; that is, they do not damage the liver, kidneys or bone marrow.”
Weed 2’s medicinal cannabis patient testimonies and the fact of cannabis’ relative safety may cause one to long for some investigation by the filmmakers into the parties — if any — responsible for perpetuating the US federal government’s rejection of the medicinal value of cannabis, which makes research approval especially difficult to obtain. However, such an investigation may veer too far from Dr. Gupta’s scientific stomping ground. (He does mention in his editorial that a number of legislators — whom he does not name — contacted him following the release of Weed to voice their support or to learn more. 6 )
Weed 2 is strongly in favor of increased medicinal cannabis research, but it glosses over the process through which proposed medicinal cannabis studies must obtain approval in the United States, a process which certainly has the potential to seem convoluted, but in fact could be explained adequately with a visual aid — a chart would do the trick. Instead, the logos and buildings of various federal agencies involved in the process are shown in Weed 2, with no guiding information regarding the necessary approval order or submission guidelines.
Since 1968, the National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR) at the University of Mississippi has been the sole supplier of cannabis for scientific research in the United States through its contract with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). 8 Human clinical trials for investigational new drugs (IND) that involve controlled substances must be cleared by both the DEA and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Unlike with other controlled substances, trials using cannabis must receive approval from one additional government agency, the Public Health Service (PHS). 8 In order to attain FDA’s permission, NIDA must first confirm that it has adequate cannabis for the research. 8 Proposals can be rejected by PHS even if both the DEA and FDA have approved. 8 The current process is lengthy and limiting.
Geoffrey Guy, MD, chairman of the United Kingdom’s GW Pharmaceuticals (maker of the patented, cannabis-derived oral spray Sativex ® ), described in Weed 2 the US government’s medicinal cannabis research approval process as having a “greater level of rigor at all levels of regulatory inquiry” than that of the UK — where cannabis is also illegal. Sativex has been approved and is on the market in 25 countries, but is still being investigated in the United States. Dr. Guy sees “generations” of cannabis-derived drugs in GW’s future.
“The reasons for FDA authority in drug development in proving drug safety and efficacy before approval for general use would have been very instructive,” said Dr. Russo. “Much more detail on how Sativex has undergone and surpassed such hurdles might have been very helpful in emphasizing how doctors may be quite willing to prescribe a product for their patients that has gone through the regulatory process,” he added, “whereas they would never consider recommending a black market preparation of unknown provenance, quality or consistency over time.”
“The major issue that physicians have is in the consistency of the product. How do you know what the person is getting? And the answer is: We don’t,” Dr. Maa told Dr. Gupta in Weed 2.
Without federal regulations to adhere to, uniformity and contamination are serious concerns. According to a 2013 study featured the Journal of Toxicology, “there are no approved pesticides or application limits established for use on cannabis crops by the US [Environmental Protection Agency]; therefore, all pesticide use on this crop is currently illegal.” 9 However, the authors write that pesticide use has been determined to be quite common in cannabis cultivation. 9 The results of their study — conducted using specially configured pipes — show that those pesticide residues transfer to both the cannabis smoke and the cannabis smoker. 9
“Additionally, unregulated cannabis supplies may harbor molds, or bacteria such as that causing meningococcal meningitis, and these have occasionally caused serious disease in people smoking them,” said Dr. Russo. “Another trend in the cannabis market,” he said, “is the totally unregulated use of cannabis concentrates such as cannabis oils, hemp oil, ‘wax’ or ‘dabs.’ These are frequently manufactured by inexperienced and unqualified kitchen chemists employing potentially toxic solvents such as butane, naptha or isopropyl alcohol.”
“My concerns,” said Dr. Abrams, “continue to be that high-CBD cannabis preparations are available from other places beyond the [Stanley Brothers] in Colorado who seem to be attracting a lot of attention with their product. We have CBD products in dispensaries in California that benefit many patients with conditions above and beyond these unusual seizure disorders.”
“[T]here is a bit of a downside to focusing only on CBD, the non-psychoactive medicinal component of cannabis in that most of the work has actually been done on THC,” noted Dr. Abrams, “and this is providing an opportunity for prohibitionists to demand that the only cannabis products that be made available should be CBD without THC, which I think is unfortunate.”
While it may have been taboo to bolster the therapeutic benefits of THC in a documentary that focused primarily on medicinal cannabis treatment for a two-year-old girl, in fact, CBD and THC, as well as other compounds in the plant, are more effective together (even when some are present only in small amounts) according to the isolator of THC, Raphael Mechoulam, PhD, due to what he has deemed the “entourage effect.” 3 Whole-plant extracts can be designed to include a range of the various cannabis compounds necessary to benefit a variety of health conditions.
“It is very difficult to approach the subject of cannabis, especially its medicinal usage, in just one hour,” said Dr. Russo. “It is a very complex subject in every respect, and requires consideration of botany, agriculture, biochemistry, genetics, politics and law, among others. Certainly, this effort complements the first program, but even taken ensemble, it would be a mistake to declare it definitive.”