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Sanjay Gupta’s Reversal On Cannabis Prohibition Garners Much Attention


marijuana prohibition sanjay guptaIt seems that everyone is talking about Sanjay Gupta’s decision to apologize for his previous support of cannabis prohibition.  From Andrew Sullivan to Vanity Fair to Stephen Colbert to the Washington Post, Dr. Gupta’s about-face has made major headlines.  I was certainly happy to hear the good doctor’s change of heart and I suspect that Dr. Gupta is just the tip of the iceberg as more and more mainstream voices will grow more comfortable admitting that they were wrong about cannabis legalization.

CNN, on the media firestorm:

More than 330,000 people shared the story on Facebook, and it started to trend on Twitter. His column inspired pot jokes as well as thoughtful conversations in publications around the world.

Vanity Fair referred to him as the “Dr. Phil of actual licensed physicians.” The Los Angeles Times said it wouldn’t go so far as to call him Dr. “Feelgood” but remarked about his change of heart. The Washington gossip site Wonkette posted a story with the headline, “When you’ve lost Sanjay Gupta you’ve lost America: Sanjay Gupta wants to get ‘high’ on the pot like a common jazz criminal.” Even the usually soberWashington Post used its piece as a jumping-off point to ask, “Is pot the new gay marriage?” Some polls show more than half of all Americans now support both same-sex marriage and marijuana.


Doctors, judges, politicians and clergy got in touch to thank him for speaking up. And of course, he’s had to put up with a lot of pot jokes. But he called it an important message more people need to hear.

In his coverage of the doctor’s change of heart, Andrew Sullivan takes the Obama Administration to task, calling the lack of leadership “extreme cowardice”:

As more and more evidence emerges that medical cannabis can transform some debilitating diseases in children - preventing seizures, for example - Dr. Sanjay Gupta does more than an about face, he acknowledges his past error.

What’s staggering to me is that anyone who has access to the Internet could believe for one second that what the federal government says about marijuana is true. It’s a self-evident, massive lie, incapable of being defended, and asserted by some kind of fiat. Just watch this pathetic spectacle. It’s like something out of the late Soviet Union, in which an apparatchik is forced to lie to conform to an obviously untrue ideology. This is not science.

That the Obama administration has done nothing to reclassify the drug to conform to minimal medical standards of accuracy can only be called extreme cowardice. At some point, in my view, this president needs to say about marijuana what he said about marriage equality: that he’s for legalization, taxation and regulation. But Gupta is a helpful stepping stone – a mainstream celebrity acknowledging that the US government is engaged in misleading and lying repeatedly to the American people.

Of course, this movement towards supporting sensible cannabis law reform has already started as Marijuana Majority has an excellent site detailing all of the public figures that support common sense reforms.  However, not many people have made major public stances supporting cannabis prohibition, like Dr. Gupta did in Time magazine in 2009, and reversed course with an apology.  Dr. Gupta provides cover for members of the media, doctors, professors, celebrities, and even politicians who fear the stigma of supporting cannabis law reforms, including damage to their careers.

Hopefully, the tide of public opinion rises to such a point that politicians will have to listen.  The close timing of Dr. Gupta’s mea culpa and Eric Holder’s recent statements regarding the need for sentencing reform give the Obama Administration the opportunity to lead on drug policy reform, including a laundry list of bills that will improve our cannabis laws.  Your move, Mr. President.  Time to make this guy and his Choom Gang proud.  Or at least, this guy.  President Obama should be tuning in, along with millions of others, to watch WEED: A Dr. Sanjay Gupta Special this Sunday at 8 pm (ET & PT).  It might just be the impetus for the President to “evolve” on this issue and take a much-needed leadership role in ending a futile, costly and harmful war being waged on nonviolent American citizens.

Source: National Cannabis Coalitionmake a donation


About Author

Anthony Johnson is the director of New Approach Oregon, the PAC responsible for Measure 91, that ended cannabis prohibition for all Oregon adults in 2014. In addition to helping organize the International Cannabis Business Conference & the Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference, he also serves as a Board Member of the National Cannabis Coalition, working to legalize cannabis across the country and Show-Me Cannabis Regulation, an organization specifically working to end cannabis prohibition in Missouri. As President of the University of Missouri Law School ACLU Chapter, Anthony co-authored the measures that legalized medical cannabis possession and decriminalized personal possession for all adults within the city limits of Columbia, Missouri, in 2004. Following law school, Anthony practiced criminal defense for two years before working full time in the political field to help improve and protect civil liberties. You can follow Anthony on Twitter and also friend him on Facebook by following the links below as he posts mostly about civil liberties and politics with dashes of sports, music, movies and whatnot.


  1. Master of Truth on

    But hows he liar? He told us he’s not lying. ANd he’d a good president, so we have to trust. NSA r friend to all american.

  2. You are the one talking about color, who cares what color he is, he is a liar and one of the worst presidents in us history. I am glad for you in your pride and ignorance as long as it makes you happy.

  3. Master of Truth on

    He great! First president who is black! We can judge him by content of character, not color of skin. And he is the FIRST! That make him good!

  4. Master of Truth on

    Fair enough, CBD is a big deal but let’s not pretend THC doesn’t bring anything to the table.

  5. Master of Truth on

    HE is GREAT president! The first black one! We judge by the content of character not color of skin and Obama is a great president- because he’s the first one! First! That means good!

  6. Master of Truth on

    He great presdent! Obama good! We judge by content of character, not color of skin. and in America he is first black president! That means good!

  7. Master of Truth on

    I’m confused by comments like “THIS president needs to….” it is like they have not been paying attention for the last five years. In 2012 Obama made it CLEAR he didn’t even WANT the marijuana vote. He has no interest in changing things for the better here or anywhere else. He misled us, he mocked us, he betrayed us- as far as I am concerned, despite the fact that Republicans call Democrats “hippy” this is not an issue the democrats will take up and champion in any way that is not SPECIFICALLY tied down to race– because race is what the democratic party (and Obama) cares about. Individual, personal freedom for all Americans is not high on their priority list. Other people’s freedom scares them.

  8. I think the documentary was okay. At least he showed a postive side of it. I wish there had been more emphasis on the medical benefits without showing the younger “stoner” generation with all the close camera shots of them smoking a joint. That image doesn’t persuade the people who we want to see it from a different perspective. They are interested in the research and the non-smoked, non-psychoactive CBD as medicine. We already know about THC and younger generation smoking pot. Once we get the opposition interested in how it may help them and their loved ones personally, then they will accept more about it. It worked on my family who used to be against it but are now for it. But, it was still a start and probably did some good. That’s my two cents worth.

  9. well said, and i agree 110/%. i hope here in ky. we make some progress in frankfort, aug. 21st.

  10. I think Dr Gupta is doing some good. I watched the video of the poor little sick girl and my heart broke. I think just as his heart broke when he seen the video. What a miracle medical marijana has done. I wish her well. I wish the family well. After this how can anyone honestly oppose medical?

  11. Raymond Tokareff on

    The first Black President is not going to legalize Weed; reschedule perhaps. Well he should!

  12. Thurston and PjSAM are in a dither. The want to get a Carter-style ‘clarification’ from him. Enjoy the read.

  13. It will not matter if obummer watches, he is a puppet and big pharma owns him among other corporations. Lets hope shows like Dr. Oz and The doctors follow suit. This will sway public opinion and educate those that have been brainwashed and convinced them that marijuana is the best medicine period. Thank you God for this plant! And thanks to everyone that trys to further the truth, the martyrs and the freedom fighters who sit rotting in prison for this life changing plant. We were all put here to Love one another, Treat everybody like your sister and Brother!

  14. Let’s hope his special “Weed” isn’t wishy washy. The entire plant is benefitial. It really is insane that this plant is illegal. I applaud Sanjay for the courage to speak up for science and facts.

  15. Let’s hope President Obama is watching Dr. Gupta’s special “Weed” on Sunday August 11th on CNN. I know I will be! It’s way past time to relieve suffering through cannabis! It needs to be legalized, regulated and reasonably taxed.

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