August 10, 2013. Charleston, SC. News 2. By Cuthbert Langley. CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent has switched his opinion on medical marijuana.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta used to be an outspoken opponent of the legalization of the drug, but earlier this week, he spoke out in support of medical marijuana.
"I think we have been terribly and systematically misled in this country for some time, and I did part of that misleading," Gupta said on "Piers Morgan Tonight."
As Gupta throws his support towards the drug, officials from the Charleston branch of the American Civil Liberties Union hope more of the public will support legalizing marijuana.
"I think it's really helpful and important in the national conversation about how this is not a dangerous drug, it's not a gateway to dangerous drugs," Executive Director Victoria Middleton said.
The ACLU is leading a nation-wide campaign to decriminalize and de-penalize simple marijuana arrests. While the organization doesn't focus solely on medical marijuana, Middleton said that if the drug is made legal, it will be safer.
"It would be good for public health and public safety to regulate it to make sure it's not adulterated but produced properly and dispensed properly for those purposes," she said.
Gupta is in support of continued research to figure out those health benefits. But, he said American scientists need to focus more on the benefits of the drug, not just the possible problems.
"We fund studies on harm," he said. "We don't fund studies on benefit nearly as much, so it gives a distorted picture."
20 states have legalized medical marijuana. Currently, there is a petition to get the South Carolina legislature to adopt medical marijuana, but experts say the state is far from that happening.