August 12, 2013

Week in Review: Gupta Bombshell Big Boost for Cannabis Biz? + Latest Colorado MMJ Sales Data

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Sure, the fact that Illinois and New Hampshire legalized medical marijuana this summer and dispensaries opened in a handful of states in recent months has generated a fair share of excitement in the cannabis industry.

But the biggest marijuana-related development of the year for the media, and perhaps the general public, is tied to something else all together.

Last week, Dr. Sanjay Gupta – an influential, well-known brain surgeon who rose to international prominence as CNN’s chief medical correspondent – dropped a bombshell by apologizing for his previous dismissal of medical marijuana and saying that he now believes cannabis does have legitimate uses for people with certain ailments.

Gupta said he had a change of heart while researching cannabis and interviewing patients for his CNN documentary “Weed,” which aired on Sunday.

Better late than never.

“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 of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis,” Gupta wrote in a column on CNN.com. “Instead, I lumped them with the high-visibility malingerers, just looking to get high.”

The column has received nearly 30,000 comments from readers and been shared hundreds of thousands of times on social media. News outlets have reported and dissected the column, and cannabis advocates have hailed it as high-level validation of their cause.

So what does it mean for the cannabis industry itself?

On the surface, not much. Gupta doesn’t have the power to change laws or directly influence those who do, of course.

But his admission – and the documentary itself – could boost the medical marijuana industry in intangible ways. For one, Gupta is a respected medical professional with a global platform to air his views, so he gives the business some much-needed credibility.

The intense media interest will also help the medical cannabis industry on a public relations front and help persuade countless individuals who are on the fence about MMJ. Additionally, his apology could eventually spark a debate in the circles of power and perhaps encourage other prominent medical leaders and experts to come out in support of MMJ.

“When well-known, respected doctors have the courage to change their minds about medical marijuana, it makes it easier for others in positions of power to follow suit,” Brad Burgehe, communications director for the Multidisciplinary Association For Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), said in a piece on the website Salon. “If patients are lucky Dr. Gupta’s gutsy admission will show regulators that even after decades of denial, it’s never too late to change their tune.”

At the very least, the industry has a high-profile medical expert in its corner, and Gupta’s apology is yet another indication that the tide is turning when it comes to medical marijuana.

Also last week, MMJ Business Daily reported that medical marijuana sales via dispensaries in Colorado are soaring, reaching an estimated $300 million during the state’s last fiscal year, which ended June 30. That represents a nearly 40% increase from the same period a year earlier – a remarkable growth spurt for a mature medical cannabis state.

The numbers show that the MMJ industry is thriving in Colorado despite a decrease in the overall number of dispensaries. Cannabis businesses that survived recent consolidation are now stronger than ever, and some dispensaries are reporting healthy profits for the first time.

Other top stories in MMJ Business Daily last week:

Hope on Horizon for New Jersey’s Embattled MMJ Industry

Business Lessons From Michigan Town’s Cap on Dispensaries

Guest Column: Due Diligence Important When Starting Cannabis Concentrates Line


3 Comments:

  1. I believe Dr. Gupta may be acting on behalf of President Obama. In his capacity he can validate the medical argument, thus helping move those on the fence towards our side (as noted in the article)without any expenditure of the President’s political capital.

    And the timing may well be orchestrated, what with AG Holder about to announce another about-face on drug policy, this time away from the criminalization of peaceable drug offenses.

    Little in politics happens accidentally.

  2. Hmmm, but Obama has surpassed GW on spending for the raids by the DEA at a $100K a day rate, see Americans for safe access for more info. It would be great if they were working together but don’t think so. I believe Dr. Gupta had the same revelation all the caregivers and patients have been experiencing over the years. Big Pharma does not want marijuana used for medical purposes as it will devastate the business. Maybe the affordable care plan would work if the meds were reasonable and worked and didn’t cause more symptoms! What a concept! So let’s see: cures cancer, prevents or minimizes nausea, has been approved for Parkinsons, controls seizures and increases appetite. Not to mention creativity!? Wow, we better ban it before everyone gets happy and start getting along, eh?

  3. Larry-O let’s not forget one of the biggest, it helps with pain! Even in the worst case for chronic pain for example the worst it will do is help the patient take LESS of the heavy narcotics the doctors love to wield the power and write scripts for, up boy beg, roll over, piss in the bottle now……..
    I don’t know what percentage they would lose but it would be in the double digits. This is proof they don’t give a damn about us as patients, as people. Imagine one day being able to be 100% honest with your doctor. What a concept.

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