CNN’s Sanjay Gupta toured Colorado’s medical marijuana outlets in a documentary last summer, “Weed,” talking about the medicinal uses of the drug and apologizing for joining the chorus of medical professionals who’ve given the public bad advice about marijuana over the years.
He touched a nerve. Now CNN and Gupta are back, with “Weed2,” tracking “medical marijuana refugees” to Colorado.
He’s not backing down on medical marijuana, Gupta wrote in a CNN online editorial Wednesday. “I’m doubling down.”
“Weed 2: Cannabis Madness: Dr. Sanjay Gupta Reports” premieres March 11 at 8 p.m. MST on CNN.
This time, Gupta follows several families with sick kids as they travel to Colorado. Some have given up on ineffectual government-approved epilepsy drugs and are in search of the only thing that seems to work to reduce seizures: the low-THC “Charlotte’s Web” strain of cannabis.
To illustrate the quandary, we are re-introduced to the Wilson family of New Jersey. CNN replays the 2013 news footage of the father of Vivian Wilson, a 2-year-old girl suffering from chronic seizures, as he confronts New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. “Please don’t let my daughter die,” he pleads, asking Christie to legalize medical marijuana in the state. Gupta spends time in the Wilson home, chronicles Vivian’s seizures, then follows the family to DIA.
Back to local dispensaries, back to the Stanley brothers — now TV documentary regulars, known for producing the less profitable but apparently medically valuable plant extracts. At the Indispensary in Colorado Springs, Gupta reads off the psychedlic-to-groovy labels on the bud jars. “The names are quirky but the owner says this is serious medicine.”
With the help of Charlotte’s Web, given in liquid form under the tongue, Vivian goes from 75 seizures a day to 10. For now, the family can’t afford to move to Colorado and doesn’t dare bring the drug to New Jersey illegally.
Gupta considers the clash between U.S. federal laws that label marijuana a drug with no medicinal value and serious scientists who say they’re wrong. “It is the politics of pot – the politicians vs. the patients.”
And he visits GW Pharmaceuticals near London, the only one in the world turning pot into a prescription drug. “If you had smell-o-vision on your TV, you’d be overpowered by now,” he says as he enters the vast grow at the company’s secret location.
Patrick Kennedy, son of Edward Kennedy, talks to Gupta about his push to get funding for research on medical marijuana. Noting the many members of his family who endured cancer chemotherapy and needed the nausea-suppressing, appetite enhancing effects of medical marijuana, Kennedy calls the current standoff “a public health debacle.”
Once again, Colorado is at the center of a national debate, getting extended TV exposure as the controversy swirls.
Joanne Ostrow: 303-954-1830, email@example.com or twitter.com/ostrowdp