Named one of the 10 most influential celebrities by Forbes in 2011, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta didn’t just report on the Iraq War, he performed neurosurgery on wounded Marines while reporting on the Iraq War. The Emmy Award-winning host of Sanjay Gupta, M.D. appears regularly on 60 Minutes and Good Morning America and is such a massive star that he single-handedly caused a sea change in cannabis history in 2013, when he publicly reversed course and declared his support for medical cannabis.
Science drove Gupta’s conversion, he said, as it has driven his entire life. The first-generation Indian American was born in Michigan in 1969 to two engineers, and obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Science from the University of Michigan, followed by a Doctorate in Medicine from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1993. In 1997, the trauma neurosurgeon became a White House Fellow and special advisor to First Lady Hilary Clinton. In 2001, Gupta joined CNN and has reported from hurricane-ravaged New Orleans, war-torn Iraq, and earthquake-devastated Haiti.
In 2013, his CNN show brought him to Colorado to where he met a child named Charlotte Figi who had almost died from chronic, incurable seizures before Figi’s parents tried medical cannabis, with near-miraculous effects. Gupta’s bombshell, hour-long documentary Weed debuted in August. Here was an assistant professor of neurosurgery at Emory School of Medicine, and an associate chief of neurosurgery at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia saying that he and other Americans had been “terribly and systematically” misled about cannabis. It was a risky career move that made him the tallest lightning rod for the issue, but instead of backing down, Dr. Gupta has doubled down.
In early March, Dr. Gupta released follow-up documentary Weed 2: Cannabis Madness, detailing the plight of medical cannabis refugees moving to Colorado and Washington to seek treatments unavailable in prohibition states. In the following interview with CULTURE, Dr. Gupta explains why medical cannabis should be available in every pharmacy in America, and how he had been misled.