Sanjay Gupta Says America's Cultural Biases Are Stalling Marijuana Research

CNN journalist and neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta has become one of America's foremost fact-based cannabis advocates thanks to his documentary series "WEED," which features him traveling around the world to learn about the science and culture of marijuana. When he recently sat down with Pittsburgh's ABC affiliate WTAE to discuss his work, Dr. Gupta criticized America's attitude toward cannabis research, pointing out that we don't appreciate the good work being done in other countries.

"We do tend to have a bit of an ethnocentric point of view when it comes to our science," he said. "If it's not U.S.-based science, we often don't pay attention to it. When we say there's no good studies out there, What we're really saying is there's no good studies coming out of brand-name institutions in the United States."

He then mentioned excellent studies undertaken in Israel as well as the United Kingdom, where researchers have experimented with using cannabis to treat spasms connected to multiple sclerosis.

He also thinks that there's another bias in the way we treat cannabis because we don't differentiate between medical and recreational use of marijuana.

"I don't think that we should talk about medical marijuana and recreational marijuana in the same basket. These are two different things. You would never talk about phenobarbital - 'Oh, I'm worried that it may be abused recreationally.' It's phenobarbital. We don't ask that of just about any other substance. And yet we do it with cannabis.

"In all the reporting I've done, I've treated this as a potential medicine. This is a potential medicine that could potentially benefit people. And should be studied like any other medicine."

Check out the full interview - in which Gupta also discusses marijuana's Schedule I status - in this clip.

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