Why Drs. Gupta, Oz and Besser changed stance on pot

Published on May 15, 2014

Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Dr. Mehmet Oz. Dr. Richard Besser.

What do these three highly visible medical professionals have in common? Sure, they’re all legit doctors who are also regularly on television — Gupta on CNN, Oz on his own syndicated show and Besser as ABC’s chief health and medical editor.

But perhaps more importantly, all three have made recent 180-degree turns and now stand in support of medical marijuana. How did all three of these doctors make such a swift shift in thinking? These doctors’ complete turnarounds are significant markers in this journey of legalization; whether it’s Gupta publicly apologizing or Besser flat-out saying, “I was wrong,” these are major reversals from world thought leaders.

Remember the last time you acknowledged you were wrong? Imagine being wrong about your professional opinion — in front of millions of viewers. Each of these acknowledgements were a big deal in their own right. Together they’re a telling sign.

These doctors’ stories are a significant part of the greater legalization story, which obviously revolves around a greater public acceptance for marijuana.

A look at their changed minds:

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

In 2009, Gupta wrote a Time magazine article titled, “Why I would vote no on pot.” A few years later, as he was prepping the first “Weed” documentary on CNN, he apologized.

“I’ve apologized for some of the earlier reporting, because I think we’ve been terribly and systematically misled in this country for some time,” Gupta told his colleague Piers Morgan in August 2013, “and I did part of that misleading.”


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