Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent and one of the most famous converts to rational marijuana policy, has written an open letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, detailing how medical marijuana could save the lives of up to 10,000 people every year who are addicted to opioids.
Gupta’s letter, which was posted on CNN.com on Tuesday morning, begins:
Dear Honorable Jeff Sessions,
I feel obligated to share the results of my five-year-long investigation into the medical benefits of the cannabis plant. Before I started this worldwide, in-depth investigation, I was not particularly impressed by the results of medical marijuana research, but a few years later, as I started to dedicate time with patients and scientists in various countries, I came to a different conclusion.Not only can cannabis work for a variety of conditions such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and pain, sometimes, it is the only thing that works. I changed my mind, and I am certain you can, as well. It is time for safe and regulated medical marijuana to be made available nationally. I realize this is an unconventional way to reach you, but your office declined numerous requests for an interview, and as a journalist, a doctor and a citizen, I felt it imperative to make sure you had access to our findings.
In the letter, Gupta reminds Sessions that drug overdoses killed 68,000 Americans in 2017, more than 45,000 of them from opioids. Every day, 115 Americans die from opioid overdoses. It has fueled a decline in an entire country’s life expectancy and will be remembered as a sad and tragic chapter in our collective history.
Gupta’s research indicates that medical marijuana can be effective in reducing opioid overdoses because the herb is effective in managing pain — and the symptoms of withdrawal from opiates. For those taking prescription opioids, Gupta said using cannabis can be effective in managing long-term pain and lessening the potential increase in pain typically associated with ending opioid use.
“These are desperate times,” Gupta writes, “and while some may consider making medical marijuana widely available to be a desperate measure, the evidence has become increasingly clear of the important role cannabis can have.”
According to the letter, Sessions has refused multiple requests for an interview with Gupta. Sessions has not commented yet on the letter.
Gupta’s letter concludes: “Recently, your fellow conservative John Boehner changed his mind after being ‘unalterably opposed’ to marijuana in the past. If you do the same, Mr. Attorney General, thousands of lives could be improved and saved. There is no time to lose.”
You can read Gupta’s letter to Sessions here.
Weed 4: Pot Versus Pills will air on CNN this Sunday, April 29th. Check your local listings.