Last updated on: 8/8/2013 | Author:

Sanjay Gupta, MD Biography

Chief Medical Correspondent for CNN
Now Pro to the question "Should Marijuana Be a Medical Option?"

“[I] had steadily reviewed the scientific literature on medical marijuana from the United States and thought it was fairly unimpressive. Reading these papers five years ago, it was hard to make a case for medicinal marijuana. I even wrote about this in a TIME magazine article, back in 2009, titled ‘Why I would Vote No on Pot.’

Well, I am here to apologize.

I apologize because I didn’t look hard enough, until now. I didn’t look far enough. I didn’t review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis…

I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof. Surely, they must have quality reasoning as to why marijuana is in the category of the most dangerous drugs that have ‘no accepted medicinal use and a high potential for abuse.’

They didn’t have the science to support that claim, and I now know that when it comes to marijuana neither of those things are true. It doesn’t have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications. In fact, sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works…

We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that.”

“Why I Changed My Mind on Weed,”, Aug. 8, 2013

[Editor’s Note: Prior to the Aug. 8, 2013 statement above, Sanjay Gupta was classified as Con based on his Nov. 6, 2006 article in TIME magazine titled “Why I Would Vote No on Pot,” quoted below.]

“Maybe it’s because I was born a couple of months after Woodstock and wasn’t around when marijuana was as common as iPods are today, but I’m constantly amazed that after all these years — and all the wars on drugs and all the public-service announcements — nearly 15 million Americans still use marijuana at least once a month…

Marijuana isn’t really very good for you. True, there are health benefits for some patients. Several recent studies, including a new one from the Scripps Research Institute, show that THC, the chemical in marijuana responsible for the high, can help slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease. (In fact, it seems to block the formation of disease-causing plaques better than several mainstream drugs.) Other studies have shown THC to be a very effective antinausea treatment for people — cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, for example — for whom conventional medications aren’t working. And medical cannabis has shown promise relieving pain in patients with multiple sclerosis and reducing intraocular pressure in glaucoma patients…

Frequent marijuana use can seriously affect your short-term memory. It can impair your cognitive ability (why do you think people call it dope?) and lead to long-lasting depression or anxiety. While many people smoke marijuana to relax, it can have the opposite effect on frequent users. And smoking anything, whether it’s tobacco or marijuana, can seriously damage your lung tissue…

Despite all the talk about the medical benefits of marijuana, smoking the stuff is not going to do your health any good.”

“Why I Would Vote No on Pot,” TIME magazine, Nov. 6, 2006

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Chief Medical Correspondent, CNN, 2006-present
  • Host, House Call with Sanjay Gupta, CNN
  • Writer, health stories, and
  • Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery, Emory University
  • Associate Chief of the Neurosurgery Service, Grady Memorial Hospital
  • Columnist, “Fit Nation,” Time magazine
  • Co-host, AccentHealth, Turner Private Networks
  • Diplomat of the American Board of Neurosurgery
  • Certified medical investigator
  • Senior Medical Correspondent, CNN, 2004-2006
  • Medical Correspondent, CNN, 2001-2004
  • Partner, Great Lakes Brain and Spine Institute, 2000
  • White House Fellow, adviser to then First Lady Hillary Clinton, 1997-1998
  • Fellow, neurosurgery, Semmes-Murphy Clinic, University of Tennessee
  • Fellow, neurosurgery, University of Michigan Medical Center
  • Education:
  • MD, Neurosurgery, University of Michigan, 1993
  • BS, University of Michigan, 1990
  • Other:
  • Member, American Association of Neurological Surgeons
  • Member, Congress of Neurological Surgeons
  • Member, Council of Foreign Relations
  • Board member, Lance Armstrong LiveStrong Foundation
  • In 2009, an Obama administration official said Gupta was under “serious consideration” for the position of US Surgeon General, but Gupta opted out to focus on his medical career and his family
  • Recipient, Emmy Award, Outstanding Feature Story in a Regularly Scheduled Newscast for “Charity Hospital,” 2006
  • Recipient, National Headliner Awards, 2006
  • Recipient, “Journalist of the Year,” Atlanta Press Club, 2004
  • Recipient, “Humanitarian Award,” National Press Photographers Association, 2003
  • Named a “pop culture icon” by USA Today, 2003
  • Named one of the “Sexiest Men of the Year,” People magazine, 2003
  • Performed surgeries while embedded as a reporter with US Navy medical unit in Iraq and Kuwait in 2003
  • Quoted in:
    1. Should Marijuana Be a Medical Option?
    2. Should Marijuana Be a Medical Option?