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Review: Dr. Sanjay Gupta's 'Weed 5: The CBD Craze' on CNN

In 2013, just days before Dr. Sanjay Gupta's first Weed special report aired on CNN, he admitted that he'd been wrong about medical marijuana.

"I apologize because I didn't look hard enough, until now," he wrote. "I didn't look far enough... I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis. Instead, I lumped them with the high-visibility malingerers, just looking to get high... I now know that... it doesn't have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications."

Six years later, Weed 5: The CBD Craze has a similar tone. Again, Gupta is issuing a mea culpa of sorts for hyping the benefits of CBD in his first report. Then, he focused on how CBD, provided by a group of Coloradans known as the Stanley Brothers, was helping a young girl named Charlotte Figi deal with constant seizures. A high-CBD strain they christened Charlotte's Web proved to be a lifesaver for her.

But now, in 2019, another family, the Wilsons, profiled then by Gupta say it didn't work for their sick daughter and actually increased her number of seizures.

Gupta revisits the Stanley Brothers and the Figi and Wilson families in his latest report. He also tells the story of a college junior who almost died from inhaling a CBD oil product known as Yolo.

"If your really want the full benefit of cannabis, there's so much more out there than CBD."

It's mostly bad news for CBD, which he says had $591 million in U.S. sales last year and potentially will increase to a staggering $22 billion by 2022. So then what's the problem?

Lack of research, for me; unattributed health claims, for another. Only U.K.-based GW Pharmaceuticals, whose high-CBD med Epidiolex was approved by FDA for seizures in 2018, seems to have figured it out by "doing the research," claims co-founder Dr. Geoffrey Guy. The company has a massive complex on 47 acres where 300,000 cannabis plants are be cultivated pesticide free.

"Just becasue Charlotte's Web uses a high-CBD hemp, that doesn't mean THC is the devil." 

After much talk about CBD, the conversation turns to the suddenly forgotten cannabinoid, THC.

"What about the rest of the plant?" Gupta asks.

"If your really want the full benefit of cannabis, there's so much more out there than CBD," says Meghan Wilson, whose daughter Vivian now uses THC to stop her seizures.

"THC has been demonized again," Josh Stanley explains. "CBD-only is not the silver bullet."

"Just becasue Charlotte's Web uses a high-CBD hemp, that doesn't mean THC is the devil," Paige Figi, Charlotte's mom, notes.

"There is no question that CBD and cannabis can be a medicine," Gupta says in summation. "It's a plant that can heal sometimes when nothing else has... It deserves the respect of any medicine and the regulation. It should come with a promise that while it may help, it certainly should never hurt, even in the midst of a CBD craze." 

More "Weed" Episodes

Weed 4: Pot vs. Pills

Weed 3: The Marijuana Revolution

Weed 2: Cannabis Madness

Weed 1

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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of CelebStoner.com, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.