Just read Dr. Gupta’s article “Why I changed my mind on weed” on CNN.com.
He admits to making an error in his 2009 TIME magazine article titled “Why I would vote No on Pot” and after doing his own extensive research, now supports the use of medical marijuana. I like this article for many reasons, primarily because Dr. Gupta is endorsing a drug that has long provided relief from cancer pain, and in my opinion, should be available to any cancer patient. Secondly, Dr. Gupta is apologizing and it’s a true apology. He acknowledges his stature in the public eye and admits that he did not think critically as a scientist and do the necessary research before writing his 2009 opinion.
As a physician about to leave training, his words really struck me.
“I apologize because I didn’t look hard enough, until now. I didn’t look far enough. I didn’t review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive…”
It is a call to action for all physicians. A reminder that we must listen to our patients first, and do our own research before rendering an opinion that could ultimately lead to suffering. As an oncologist, I commend Dr. Gupta for speaking out on this important topic and helping cancer patients everywhere. As a resident physician, I admire him for admitting to his mistakes and showing us what a true apology is, and providing me with a grave reminder to listen to my patients and apply a critical eye to accepted medical conventions.
Dr. Norleena Gullett is a Radiation Oncologist at Erlanger Cancer Institute in Chattanooga, TN. In addition to her medical expertise, she strives to offer emotional, psychological, and spiritual support in her care for her patients. She prides herself on treating you, the whole person, with the best care possible.