Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sanjay Gupta: What the Next Surgeon General Doesn't Know About Pot

By Russ Belville, NORML - The next surgeon general needs to stop putting politics before science. Gupta may not be ready for that.

If Dr. Sanjay Gupta is picked for the post of surgeon general, he would become the nation's leading medical advocate. His experience in the media would be beneficial in bringing the Surgeon General's office back to the prominence it held when C. Everett Koop was successfully battling tobacco smoking.
But is Gupta ready to deliver the Obama administration's promised end to the politicization of science and medicine? More specifically, will Gupta toe the federal line that cannabis is lacking in any medical value, or will he recognize what 13 states and the past 12 years of research prove -- that cannabis is a beneficial medicine for some people and an intoxicant far less harmful than alcohol for others?
In 2002, Gupta was more than willing to echo the outrageous claims that smoking pot would lead to psychosis, depression and schizophrenia:
But the three studies you are talking about talk specifically about schizophrenia and depression, and the fact that marijuana use earlier in life actually may lead to an increased -- 30 percent increase -- in schizophrenia later in life.
Depression, also a very big diagnosis -- roughly 18.8 million in this country have it. Again, they looked this time at 1,600 high school students and followed them over about seven years. This is in Australia, not in the United States. But they actually found that all of these boys and girls, particularly girls, were more vulnerable to the symptoms of depression later on in life, again if they were frequent or even daily marijuana users.
I hope that the next surgeon general has been following the research on cannabis and mental health since 2002. This year, Dr. Mikkel Arendt of Aarhus University in Risskov, Denmark, said that people treated for a so-called cannabis-induced psychosis "…would have developed schizophrenia whether or not they used cannabis."

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