CNN: Medical Cannabis Might Be the Answer – But Are They Asking the Right Question?

CNN: Medical Cannabis Might Be the Answer - But Are They Asking the Right Question?

By Ed Coghlan.

A CNN Special on Sunday night explored the concept that medical cannabis could help solve or ease the opioid epidemic.

It’s the latest—and most aggressive—endorsement of medical cannabis by CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta who famously changed his mind on the efficacy of medical cannabis/marijuana five years ago.

Read this 2013 article on why Gupta changed his mind on medical cannabis.

The CNN special used former NFL lineman Kyle Turley and current Detroit Lion Mike James as spokesperson for the efficacy of medical cannabis.

James is the more interesting story because he’s still an active player.  James has asked the NFL, which tests for marijuana and punishes players if it’s found in a test, for a therapeutic exemption since he uses medical cannabis for his pain.

The NFL only allows exemptions if the drugs are approved for use—and, of course, cannabis is not.

James is putting his career on the line.

The NFL seems to be softening its previous hardline stance on that issue—and the NFL Players Association (as the National Pain Report published in 2017) has been pressuring the league to study the use of marijuana as pain management.

A group called “Doctors for Cannabis Regulation” was highlighted. The group’s website says that according to a WebMD/Medscape poll, most American physicians believe that medical cannabis should be legal, and hundreds of thousands of doctors now support legalization of cannabis for consenting adults.

The special also explored the conundrum that since cannabis is a controlled substance, getting approval and the supply to conduct a study is difficult.

For Yasmin Hurd, Ph.D., the Ward-Coleman Chair of Translational Neuroscience and the Director of the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai, it took four years to get approval to study medical cannabis.

She likened coming off opioids as similar to the side effects of chemotherapy. 

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who would not be interviewed for the special, has demonstrated remarkable persistence in fighting the legalization of marijuana and the use of cannabis for medical research and treatment.

He continues to believe that marijuana is a “gateway drug”.

As the special pointed out, no one has ever died from a marijuana overdose.

Dr. Mark Wallace of the University of California San Diego is an anesthesiologist and pain management specialist who believe that Attorney General Sessions is wrong and that medical cannabis has a role to play in treatment.

(Editor’s Note: The producers of the special focused on the theme about whether that marijuana can help stop addiction and offset some of the impact of the “opioid epidemic”. We are disappointed that the issue of pain management wasn’t more actively explored. If you saw the special, leave your thoughts in our comments section.)

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

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I suffer from CRPS, Fibromyalgia, arthritis, insomnia, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure and possibly Lupus as well.
After a long and very thorough visit with the Medical Marijuana doctor, I cannot wait to get my card and try a different, less harmful and believe it or not, cheaper alternative to ALL of the pills I take daily that have numerous side effects.
The doctor I saw stated that she wanted me to use both MM AND all of my other medications in the beginning. Stating I need to wake up my endocannabinoid system, (which I segment everyone research) before stopping anything.
However, there is hope that I may be able to eventually stop taking all of the pills for my blood pressure, anxiety, depression, muscle relaxers, gabapentin for nerve pain and maybe completely come off of the other narcotics for pain. I cannot imagine my life where I don’t have to take a hand full of pills as soon as I wake up in the morning and wait for the alarm to go off for again and again all day for the next hand full and the next hand full, etc.
To the person who posted they too have CRPS, I don’t understand why you would use a high dose of THC when you would actually need a higher dose of CBD along with a lower dose of THC for maximum effect. The only time a higher dose of THC is recommended is for sleep.
As a former nurse, I have been researching the effects of MM, and how both CBD and THC must be used together to work, for years. I’ve seen patients try just CBD oil and complain that it didn’t do anything for them. I suggested they move to a state where MM is legal and where there are actual “doctors” who can advise how to use it properly, using both THC and CBD together, and how to get the best results.
Thankfully, it is now legal in my state. I have found an incredible doctor who actually cares. She takes time to get to know her patients and does quite a bit of research of their health records prior to seeing them. Even with all of the knowledge I had, she taught me more and is not one of those strip mall doctors. People cannot just walk in and state things like they are in pain or have anxiety or whatever they think may get them a MM card and can freely smoke weed. MM in the smokable “weed” is not legal in my state. Vapes, tinctures, oils, creams, patches and edibles are all you can get here and I’m praying that with my new wonderful doctor, I will eventually be able get out of bed, take a shower, get out of my house and have some kind of life.


I remain FIRM that there is no “one” pain management therapy or one maximum dosage of opioid medication to all patients. If medical cannabis does in fact help many with pain management or other detrimental, disabling health issues then that… what should be prescribed. If opioid medication in an effective dosage does help with pain management then that….is what should be prescribed to a patient. Pehaps a combination of cannabis and opioid medication will ease suffering then….that is what needs to be prescribed. Jeff Sessions obviously has never had very much experience with pain, either acute or intractable pain and even IF he has had acute pain did he use opioid medication? WE will never know. What I do realize is that Jeff is totally close minded to the needs of MILLIONS of citizens and it is Jeffs wayattempting or no way. He needs to get out of medicine. I thought he was an attroney but he is consumed on doing things…..Jeffs way. He is an ididot for advising or making policy or law about something he truly knows NOTHING about. WTH IS Jeff doing? He does not seem to be onboard with the presidents agenda in many ways so is he mounting his own run for potus? I doubt it, he don’t have the bal$$ it takes. He would rather rally constituintes into pushing his personal agenda rather than even listening to public demand. Public demand on issues from people that have “been there, done that” and know. People with pain management, serious problems have been abandoned. That is a step toward totalitarianism. I.E., communism. Millions of lives are in shambles from ineffective pain management and dot/gov is ignoring our pleas. Pleas from licensed, respected health care officials, doctors, even some psychologists and especially people so badly affected with CDC , DEA enforced “policy” for opioid medication prescribing. I don’t like my own dot/gov watching me especially if I have no criminal or even cicvil negative record. Jeff has to go. His do it his way policy shows complete lack of recognition of our Constitution of law that “should” be law that governs American citizens.

Kat Koe

Dr. Gupta Weed 4 pot vs opioids
CNN: Medical Cannabis Might Be the Answer – But Are They Asking the Right Question?
My Comment:
The question begs if Dr. Gupta believes cannabis may be used to help stem the opioid crisis, then why are we in an opioid crisis to begin with? If it were that easy the addicts who take illegal opioids may not have escalated beyond cannabis. Medical Marijuana and recreational marijuana both work in the same way. As far as I know the difference between medical and recreational marijuana is that medical marijuana must be recommended by a doctor. Cannabis hasn’t fixed the profligate of illegal drugs/opioid crisis currently and not sure how Dr. Gupta believe it’ll fix it in the future? Many heroin users may have started with cannabis and moved on to more dangerous drugs like heroin and fentanyl. What Dr. Gupta is saying is that prescription medication is the driving force of opioid overdoses and he is clearly out of touch.
As Robert Stelzl stated, cannabis doesn’t work for everyone. It increases my pain when I use it, so it isn’t good for my pain control.

Robert Stelzl

How many people find that pot really does relieve pain in adhesive Arachnoiditis patients? I’ve tried it several times. It enhances the pain, not relieving it. I live in California so it’s readily available but I am not sure it’s a real pain control option for everyone. Let’s be careful not to overstate its (pot) impact.


I am quickly becoming a believer in medical marijuana, everything I’ve read is always positive, but as always there’s a catch. If I use medical marijuana and I fail a urine test then I will no longer be able to get my pain meds. That’s one thing, here’s another, I have absolutely no idea whatsoever on how to get a medical marijuana card, which you need to get the marijuana, so where do I start? I live 30 miles outside of Detroit. Do I get the cad from my family doctor or is there a special doctor I see? I really appreciate all of your information but it does me no good if I don’t know what to do with the information. So please somebody write a blog on all of the questions that we have. Thank you for your investigation and the start of the information you supplied. Fyi my pain meds have been cut so drastically and so quickly that I find it hard to even get up in the morning, it’s just too hard.


a reminder….everyone should go to the DEA website and leave a comment before their deadline of May 4. they are getting ready to impose quotas on the pharmaceutical companies., to further reduce availability of opioid pain medications.


to Janis….how do you cope wit your pain, now that you don’t take any meds? you have several painful conditions….wondering how you deal with them…??


pain management is not discussed by anyone in the media because pain is not recognized as being a problem. an exception is Greg Gutfeld on Fox news, who wrote a very good article last week that present another side to this insane crusade the govt. is on. Let’s hope that more media people will join him. btw, I mailed him several articles. i believe he read them. i think several people sent him things to read. everyone should be printing and mailing relevant article to the media. almost all media people and/or networks can be contacted by mail. we need to spread information outside of our own pain community… imho.


I agree throughout the show it kept saying how oversubscribed pain pills was reason for opiate war.we all know that this is wrong and yet again media keep pushing the false narrative. No one is saying the truth.the media keep using the inflated numbers that the cdc admitted were inflated by 200%.why are they continuing with this lie.Chronic pain patients are suffering, suicide.The medical community is treating them like addicts.

Maureen M.

Hi Ed, while channel surfing last night I came across the special.
I caught perhaps the last half of it, so I taped it to watch the beginning another time.
While I am a long time opioid user I thought the show was excellent.
I’ve never tried medical MJ (yet) but I’m proud of Dr. Gupta for bringing it to light and joining the band wagon to fight for it.
Many people need it… Perhaps I will need it one day also. Perhaps it may be all we end up with down the pike! Only time will tell.
But the special did say that an MJ pill is close to FDA approval. That’s progress in our direction.
I would give anything to be off my Norco and Gabapentin, to be clear minded and have energy again would be heavenly 🙂
So kudos to him and those who are trying to fund more research on it.


So how can we as a group get these comments to Dr Grupta. There needs to be a follow up documentary.


I have mixed feelings about this because I do not feel that it will be a replacement for pain medication. Many patients cannot use marijuana and many patients find no pain relief from it. I know of some who feel just very out of sorts or out of touch and that is all, it doesn’t help with nerve pain and other sorts of specific pain. Pain following surgery probably wouldn’t be totally helped. There is a lot of ands, ifs, and buts to this so-called solution. But maybe scientists could find how this isn’t addictive like most opioids are. I am certain it would be very helpful in many instances. We must come to realize that many chronic pain patients will be on pain medication for the rest of their lives and if there are not any problems arising from it, then why does it matter? Many patients find their prescribed meds work and work well without the abuse of the drug, without the common stigmas placed on those who take pain medication. We must look to these patients also and figure out why they are successful taking opioids for their pain. No one ever speaks of them. Not everyone is an addict, abuses, or sells their medication. Millions of patients follow their doctor’s orders, take their medication as prescribed and ARE SUCCESSFUL.


As cancer patient took of opiates, had I not tried medical marijuana it would of been heroin. Based on seizures for kids and that it never killed anyone..take the cuffs off this plant but I get from many specific pain problems, although marijuana been a life saver, a time or pain comes when opiates are needed..I stand for both medical marijuana and opioids, I don’t think this should come down to opiates vs marijuana but support both and what the patient needs for pain, let them have it!

Susan L.

The fact that cannabis has been Schedule I is ridiculous, as is the fact that we are not legally able to cultivate and consume poppies (or ANY naturally-growing plant for that matter). Is it a coincidence that both cannabis and “opium poppies” grow like weeds in many, climates and conditions? As a believer in a loving God, I think that these plants were given to us to use judiciously to treat ourselves.

This Opiate War seems to be non-partisan, with supporters (but no opponents?) from both sides of the aisle. Politicians don’t care about drug overdoses, and we KNOW are in the pockets of Big Pharma lobbyists; perhaps this War has more to do with expired patents than it does public safety? Pain killers were a huge money-maker for Big Pharma until the patents ran out…nobody was worried about overuse THEN. We need to follow the money.

Longtime Rsd dude

I tried the best strains w highest thc for Crps I suffer from. I got high but it was no replacement for me in my case for opioid medication and nerve pain I suffer from.


I’ve been sitting here, knocked off my [edit] with pain since 730am.
Nothing has helped this today, opiods, corticosteroid, etc. I’m glassy eyed from pain and meds. My day has begun as a [edit] salad. the only way out is to get as stoned as possible.
My life is like yours, a living hell due to complex pain issues. I don’t wish chronic pain on anyone.

To have to continually defend ourselves against the ill-informed media coverage, Congress and attny general speaking out of both sides of mouth, it’s no wonder we are heading for some hard times.

CNN, do your homework. You are presenting only one side of the story, which is filled with bias.

There are millions of us out here in nonending chronic pain. We need your full support to tell our side of the story. Let’s bring pain management out in the open for all to see.

Meanwhile, iI encourage everyone to continue to aggressively pursue legal alternatives, including accunpunture, kratom, ketamine, etc and please share results!


I posted a very length comment on the CNN you tube “weed vs pills” last night. The link was 3rd one down on the page. Mysteriously the link is now at the bottom and my comment disappeared. Fortunately, I copied and posted it again. Learn something new every day.

Wanted to share this Fox news article by Greg Gutfeld; Opioid facts and falacies. There are links within. Check out the ACSH link close to the bottom;

I go to advanced pain management they push steroid shots if you refuse they harass you I get even get enough pain meds cause of it need to investigate them I’m tired fighting stupid doctors and pain to bullcrap your punishing us for what the doctors did for money wake up

jill slovacek

For those that cannabis works for GREAT, AWESOME, I am almost jealous.I have tried various types. For myself, it actually intensifies my pain. Which is not pain, it is agony. Now if cannabis helps with opioid withdrawal I do not know. That is wonderful if it does and I am going to keep my Cannabitol oil on hand just in case something went wrong with my pump or who knows but some incident that caused withdrawals .Withdrawals and the thought of the terrify me.I have had two different types of chemotherapy and and opioid withdrawals, are worse.I recently read a article by a Fox News, or Fox channel figure named Greg Gutfield about the ” opioid crisis” He seems to get it.I posted the article on my facebook in fact. Bottom line, cannabis doesn’t work for everyone. Just as dose restriction do not because “one size fits all” will not work in medicine.As said often and by many, we must unite , we must speak up. This week would be a great time for everyone to reach out to CNN and offer them “our” side of this multifaceted situation. Beyond our pain, we must continue to raise our voices. If all one can do is one letter or tweet or what ever raise your voice thus raising the awareness.For those that cannabis is effective for, happy 420 . ( I realize many use THC removed cannabis- was just a joke )

Lori T.

I am happy that the topic of marijuana is now being explored by more and more experts and physicians. I saw the coverage of marijuana on CNN last night and I agree with this author that I too wish pain management was discussed more on the show. However, the title of the show was Weed4, so maybe if Sanjay Gupta makes the next episode of Weed5, that topic may be discussed. I’m just happy that the conversation of marijuana is stoking up. It is about time. It is very possible that this plant and the many strains that have been cultivated so far, could possibly bring excellent pain relief to many folks who are battling acute pain, chronic pain and addiction to opioids. I still feel however that opioids should continue to remain on the table for the chronically ill. What works for one person may not work for another. I say lets get marijuana off the scheduled list of drugs, legalize it for everyone who is an adult. Let the researchers do what they do to study the efficacy of the plant and the many other clinical trials that need to be done. Decriminalize the plant and allow the people locked up in the prison for offenses related to marijuana, go free and make room for the real criminals in our society who are causing mayhem and death to be locked up, and move on with life. Thank you for this article Ed Coghlan. As always, fine reading.


I saw it and when I saw the direction it was going I turned the channel!


I saw the special and it was difficult to watch. All they did was focus mainly on addiction and used high powered people to make it appear that opioids werent even effective in long term pain management. We have a lot of media stars out there deceiving the public. Dr Drew Pinsky on the view discussing the addiction in you medicine cabinet. Now thats killing people. They publicize chosen sides of this using chosen famous people; who by the way, are priveledged and have access to get whatever pills they need (necessary or not) from irresponsible Doctors. Then all Doctors are blamed unfairly. If that doesnt work for them, then they have the resources to turn their lives around with the high price of Cannabis. What happens when the Cannabis helps but can not relieve severe pain. Im a cancer patient and used it for approximately 4 months; until I had to choose between that and necessities like food. I was only able to decrease the percocet by about half”; which was great. Reputable cannabis dispensaries will tell you that cannabis may not relieve all of your symptoms (depending on what those issues are); yet is useful in so many ways. I think there is a plan in progress to turn Cannabis over to Big Pharma in the form of a pill. That means a generic medicine that include the side effects of inactive ingredients from binders and fillers. I could be wrong but I cant imagine insurance companys paying for Cannabis where pharmaceutical companys are not involved. Yes, pain management was not an issue. They focused on the evils of opioids. No discussion about those who need them and are using them responsibly.


I did see the special. Yes, I would have liked to see more emphasis on Pain Management, however, I thought this might be a beginning. Politically, the opioid crisis is all that the politicians and media think about. If this is a way to get more approval for research, etc. then so be it. I would like to see the Medical Profession in general fight harder for the hundreds of people suffering from chronic pain. I just don’t see that. Even the Pain Specialists are afraid to stand up to the CDC Guidelines and the Drug Administration.

Debbie Gray

Also disappointed … Failed to address our stand …. Pain management ! Meds for substantiated , documented ,
Proven hystory, responsible patients…abandoned ! We must stand & get our voices heard! NFL , puts his life on the line”???? My life was forever changed from injury, now again ….from traumatic experience …
Back ally physician … Fraud dr!
I’m up now because i woke myself … up talking & crying out loud … Only to darkness &
The horror !

martha mccroskery

I am a 64 year old female whom is currently on day 100 being free from all chemical dependency for the first time in over 30 years. I have spinal stenonis, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis in addition to anxiety & depression.
More studies and less negativativity on alternative ways to control pain should be the focus.


I would love to be able to try csnnabis as a substitute for opiods but the cost is too high. They just supposedly legalized medical marajuana in Florida but very few doctors are prescribing it. Then if you can get a prescription, the cost of the medication is extremely high! And you can only buy from these government regulated facilities. You can’t buy off the street or grow your own. Most pain patients are like me, living on a fixed income, in my case, disability, and cannot afford $500 a month for this option. .

Dr Sanjay Gupta is asking the wrong question.

The right question, is “When the DEA Says that Methamphetamine is Safer than Cannabis, do parents and children who believe the DEA, Harm Their Children?”

The reason for that, is that a known consequence of Methamphetamine addiction, is an opioid craving, brought on by the terrible insomnia that results from Methamphetamine use. Here’s a link to my paper, reviewing 30 years of US Government research proving that to be true:

A DEA policy that pushes amphetamines to children, makes it simple for crooks to promote recreational use of those amphetamines. People who believe the DEA, end up believing the drugs are safe.

This is the reason why there is an “opioid death epidemic”, in the communities where the methamphetamine epidemic began 3 years ago.

Attacking pain patients will do nothing to stop the methamphetamine epidemic.

But giving people an amphetamine alternative, would work wonders to solve that problem.

One emerging alternative for amphetamines in treating the ADHD disease, is cannabis.

Instead of calling this a “cannabis use disorder”, the DEA needs to own up to the evidence, that millions of people with ADHD, treat their symptoms with cannabis, and do better on it, that they do when taking prescribed amphetamines.

But if it does that, the DEA loses the mystique of pretending to know all the answers.