From David Hepburn, MD, in response to Gupta’s Weed 4

To my mind, the primary target of education should be the undecideds. I believe Dr. Gupta alienates this sector of his audience with the constant portrayal of “weed/pot” being reefered up and the medicine being delivered though thick veils of smoke. This gives the impression that this is how we prescribe cannabis. It is not. For example, since Health Canada has approved oils, this has become the number one delivery mechanism prescribed.

No doctor on the planet looks at someone smoking and the subsequent inhalation of combusted material as a healthy option. Doctors cringe at the thought and the sight of it, a visual which Sanjay insists on putting on full display in every documentary. Sessions et al undoubtedly feed off this depiction. It strengthens the stigma that those taking cannabis medically are simply rec smokers in disguise. I have no problem with recreational smokers, but as a doctor I have a big problem with the depiction that doctors are telling patients to light up to treat their irritable bowels. It is not what is happening in real life.

The GW doctor who was interviewed gave a significanty more professional discussion of medical cannabis.

As the global tipping point for medical cannabis continues to move forward, most countries turn to Canada for medical advice. I have had the honour to consult on some of these regulations. Some countries have stated, right out of the gate, that they have no interest in any option that involves smokable cannabis. They pay attention to what happens in North America as evidenced by government officials quoting the National Academies 400 page report of Jan 2017. And they do see the CNN documentaries. Hence this has become counterproductive not only in North America but globally.

I have great respect for Dr. Gupta and what he has done since the Time article in 2009, given the fact that doctors are trained never to apologize. (It is part of the same course on handwriting illegibly and putting.) I just hope ›he stops depicting medicine being delivered in the most unhealthy, smoky of depictions. He should be aware that this makes a lot of us cringe.

PS: Of course there’s a vast difference between vaping and smoking (200s vs 900 degrees C at tip). This distinction isn’t clarified in the documentary and in fact is somewhat muddied by the furls of smoke enveloping the patients. Gupta’s Weed 4 showed less smoking than previous shows, but why even show it at all, given that doctors recommend vaping (for migraines, nausea, panic disorders, spasms, some pain etc) when inhalation is the preferred delivery mechanism.

I realize it seems like I’m straining at a gnat but I am fiercely protective of the image of medicinal cannabis and not adding to the stigma that prevents the undecideds from embracing it as they should.