April 7 was World Health Day, and the most famous medical professional in the world, television personality and health expert Dr. Oz, took the opportunity to spread a pro-medical marijuana message. In a video he released on his website and Facebook, Dr. Mehmet Oz, a cardiothoracic surgeon and professor at Columbia University who became a stalwart of the superstar Oprah brand and now a household media personality, outlined the “the most pressing items facing the medical world.”
The video starts with a young person in a hat and a coat smoking a marijuana joint, leading us to assume it’s a typical teenage “slacker” using recreational marijuana. But the young man removes his hat to show a hairless head, like we might see with a cancer patient who lost his or her hair due to chemotherapy, and then removing the coat to reveal hospital pajamas. Floating across the screen is the message, “It’s time to talk about marijuana as medicine.”
And with Dr. Oz’s message, the first and seemingly most important issue listed in the video, is heard loud and clear, we see that the international community should be embracing the medical marijuana conversation. That stance is consistent with Dr. Oz’s recent public statements and on-air shows as he’s been one of the biggest and most prominent advocates for the legalization of medical marijuana, along with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. But Dr. Oz didn’t always feel that way. In 2014 he revealed on Larry King Live that he had actually grown up distrusting and vilifying marijuana based on prevailing propaganda, but changed his mind upon reevaluating and looking at medical research and anecdotal evidence.
“I think most of us have come around,” Dr. Oz said, “To the belief that marijuana is hugely beneficial when used correctly for medicinal purposes.”
Of course that change mirrors the national opinion, as now 86% of Americans say that doctors should be able to legally prescribe medical marijuana. They already can in 26 states and the District of Columbia and legal for recreational purposes in 4 states and D.C. Although Dr. Oz has fallen short of endorsing recreational legality, he calls for complete reform of federal law that still classifies marijuana as a schedule 1 controlled substance with no accepted medical use.
“This year,” Dr. Oz posted on Facebook, “I want to make sure that we address and understand three paramount issues for which we can all make a difference: marijuana as medicine, transgender awareness, and the right to end pain and suffering. Each of you have the power to create true change.”
World Health Day is the yearly international event, hosted by the World Health Organization together with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, to promote the most important issues facing the medical world. This year, the official main topic is food safety, as it’s estimated that unsafe food is responsible for the deaths of about 2 million people every year, many of which are children.
You can watch Dr. Oz’s video here: