Q&A: Legendary sportscaster Bob Lobel and his doctor share their musings on Massachusetts marijuana
Bob Lobel is still no stranger to the media. Of course, the 74-year-old was a sportscasting icon for WBZ-TV for three decades, but, in the last few years, journalists have been pointing the mic back at him to hear his commentary on a completely different beat — marijuana.
Lobel has become an unexpected supporter of medical marijuana in Massachusetts since 2015, when he quit prescription opioids in favor of cannabis to ease his chronic pain. He’ll be appearing at “The Doc and Jocks,” a panel at the New England Cannabis Convention Saturday, where he and former pro athletes, like Jim McMahon of the NFL, will discuss pot’s role in managing pain. Lobel is also starting work on a marijuana-themed podcast—appropriately called “Bob Lobel’s New England POTcast”—and he’ll record the first episode in front of an audience at the convention.
Dr. Uma Dhanabalan, Lobel’s physician, is leading the panel. Known to her patients as simply “Dr. Uma,” she runs a practice in Natick specializing in medical cannabis, and she’s also starting a nonprofit called Dr. Uma CARE (Choice, Alternative, Research, and Education).
Retail pot shops are set to open in Massachusetts as early as July, and recreational license applications start in just a few weeks. Ahead of the convention this weekend, we talked with Lobel and Dr. Uma about the state of cannabis in the Commonwealth.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Boston.com: Bob, you’ve said that marijuana is more of an “exit drug” than a “gateway drug.” Why did you choose pot over traditional prescription painkillers?
Bob Lobel: First of all, any information I have about this subject comes from [Dr. Uma Dhanabalan]. It really revolves around addiction and the realities of the effects of alcohol and opioids. It’s an “exit drug” from the problems