Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, has written an open letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions explaining clearly that medical marijuana could save the lives of up to 10,000 people every year who are addicted to opioids.
Dr. Gupta’s open letter was posted on the CNN website Tuesday morning:
“I feel obligated to share the results of my five-year-long investigation into the medical benefits of the cannabis plant," Dr. Gupta wrote to Sessions.
"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."
Dr. Gupta noted there was added urgency since the nation is in the middle of a "deadly opioid epidemic." He explained that every day, 115 Americans die from opioid overdoses.
"These are desperate times, 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."
Gupta referred to a study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse that found a 20 percent decline on opioid overdose deaths between 1999 and 2010 in states with legalized medical marijuana.
"It's not the first time this association between medical marijuana and opioid overdose has been found. Though it is too early to draw a cause-effect relationship, these data suggest that medicinal marijuana could save up to 10,000 lives every year."
And remember that this Sunday, part 4 of Dr. Gupta’s weed series will air on CNN at 8 am. Dr. Gupta made headlines in 2013 when he came out in favor of medical cannabis. In 2014, following more in-depth research, he announced he was “doubling down” on his pro-marijuana views. This Sunday, Gupta is expected to push even harder with more science and logic behind him, so don’t miss it.
Read all of Dr. Gupta’s letter to Sessions here.