Sanjay Gupta Talks About Bias in U.S. Medical Marijuana Research

Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, didn’t always support the idea of using medical marijuana. But he said in a recent interview that once he looked beyond U.S. medical marijuana research he found enough information to change his mind.

Gupta spoke recently with Joe Rogan, the popular host of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. He said he looked to international cannabis research because there is a “very biased set of data” used in U.S. medical marijuana research.

Gupta said that once you delve into marijuana research in the United States “you realize that most of the studies that are getting funded are designed to look for harm.”

Gupta’s Comments Backed Up By Independent Study

To learn about the potential uses of medical marijuana, Gupta said looked at the results from studies done in other countries. He noted that studies out of Israel in particular have useful information about the potential health benefits of cannabis.

When writing about medical marijuana years ago and looking into the research, Gupta said that “94 percent of [studies] were basically – the hypothesis was – where’s the harm here? Show me the harm. The hypothesis was not ‘show me the benefits.’”

Independent study has backed up what Gupta saw for himself. According to a recent analysis of marijuana research funding in the U.S., Canada and United Kingdom, about $1.56 billion flowed into cannabis research from 2000 to 2018. Of that, at least half focused on finding the harms of cannabis.

In 2018 alone, research into negative impacts of cannabis received 20 times more funding than research into medical uses for cannabis in the three countries.

The study also found that the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a federal government agency, backed far more research into cannabis misuse and negative effects than it did on therapeutic potential.

Rogan Is a Strong Supporter for Legal Marijuana

Gupta said his opinion on marijuana also changed when he saw the positive impact it had in helping children with epilepsy better manage their seizures. To date, the only FDA-approved drug derived from cannabis is the anti-seizure medication, Epidiolex.

Rogan seemed most impressed with the fact that Gupta actually changed his mind when he found new information, something missing from many debates in the current political atmosphere. He said when he heard about Gupta’s change of mind on medical marijuana, he said, “That’s a real, real thinking person who is trying to honestly figure out what’s going on instead of just working on being right.’”

Rogan has taken up the issue of U.S. medical marijuana research and marijuana legalization in general many times on his podcast. Billionaire Elon Musk famously took a hit from a joint while on the show. Other guests who have either spoken about their use of marijuana or backed legalization on the podcast include U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, and former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson.

Even noted conservative U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas told Rogan he supports federal legalization of medical marijuana. “I think the science backs that up pretty well,” he said.

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