CNN announced on November 22 that it would be airing the sixth installment of its cannabis series, WEED 6: Cannabis and Autism, which explores the benefits between medical cannabis and symptoms of patients with autism in its debut this weekend.
Featuring CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta, this segment follows the traditional format of the previous WEED series to introduce viewers to firsthand experiences with medical cannabis benefits. “Autism, ASD for Autism Spectrum Disorder, is by definition a wide array of behaviors. Whether mild or severe, two core symptoms are social communication challenges and restrictive or repetitive behaviors,” CNN states in a press release. “In WEED 6: Cannabis and Autism, viewers will meet researchers, doctors, and families, some of whom are coming out publicly for the first time, and will see in real-time how life-changing the plant can be for them.”
The first WEED documentary released in 2013, and opened up an entirely new discussion on the stigma of weed. The honest headline of Gupta’s 2013 CNN article “Why I changed my mind on weed” directly opposed his 2009 TIME article “Why I would vote No on Pot.”
In his 2013 article, Gupta apologizes for letting the cannabis stigma prevent him from seeing the plant’s true potential. “Well, I am here to apologize,” he wrote. “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.”
In WEED, he brought the spotlight to Charlotte Figi, a young Colorado girl suffering from Dravet syndrome, who found relief with medical cannabis. She sadly passed away in 2020, but her example has inspired many other parents to seek out medical cannabis for their children.
It’s been eight years since that original documentary released, and Gupta has produced a total of six documentaries with a unique perspective on cannabis. In WEED 2: Cannabis Madness (2014) he dove into the complexities of politics when it comes to medical cannabis. WEED 3: The Marijuana Revolution (2015) continued to review the benefits of medical cannabis. WEED 4: Pot vs. Pills (2018) tackled the devastating effects of the opioid crisis, and how medical cannabis can help. Finally WEED 5: The CBD Craze (2019) explored the boom of CBD and the dangers of an unregulated market.
Since 2013, Gupta has been a strong proponent of medical cannabis, but his involvement isn’t limited to the WEED series. Most recently on October 13, 2021, he appeared on an episode of The Joe Rogan Experience where he discussed his stance change on cannabis, and how he publicly came out stating that he was wrong about medical cannabis.
Gupta also provided insight about the problem with many medical studies now being conducted on cannabis. “If you’re just looking at papers—well, this one potential long harm, this one possible addiction, this one gateway—you know, you’re seeing all those individual studies, but at a broader level, one step upstream, you realize that most of the studies that are getting funded are designed to look for harm,” Gupta told Rogan. “When I saw that, that was the first time I thought, ‘well, why are the studies that are getting out there, why are they all designed to look for harm?” he said. “Then I started looking at other countries, and some really good research out of places like Israel in particular.”
WEED 6: Cannabis and Autism will debut on December 19 on CNN live, and can also be watched on the channel’s live streaming service, CNNgo.