Unless you have been living under a rock, you must be aware that there is an opioid epidemic plaguing our nation. Due to our healthcare system’s penchant for overprescribing more and more addictive and deadly pain medications, there are very few families that haven’t been touched by the tragic consequences of opioid addictions, including my own. The Trumpcare health care debate is currently stalled, partially due to the fact that proposed budget cuts will hurt access to treatment as Medicaid covers about 30% of our nation’s addiction treatments. Medical cannabis could be a significant relief for many battling opioid addictions or would be in danger of addiction, as a study just released by the University of California-Berkeley and HelloMD has found that 97% of patients reported that marijuana could reduce their need for opioids.
It is a shame that our federal government, and still a handful of states, don’t allow medical cannabis, a medicine that could help alleviate our opioid crisis. Unfortunately, when prohibitionist politicians, like Attorney General Jeff Sessions continue to deny access to medical cannabis, they are literally putting people’s lives in danger. The New York Times reports that opioid deaths in 2016 are likely to exceed more than 59,000, stating that:
The death count is the latest consequence of an escalating public health crisis: opioid addiction, now made more deadly by an influx of illicitly manufactured fentanyl and similar drugs. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50.
Although the data is preliminary, the Times’s best estimate is that deaths rose 19 percent over the 52,404 recorded in 2015. And all evidence suggests the problem has continued to worsen in 2017.
Researcher Amanda Reiman, who led the study, stated, “The treatment of pain has become a politicized business in the United States. The result has been the rapidly rising rate of opioid-related overdoses and dependence. Cannabis has been used throughout the world for thousands of years to treat pain and other physical and mental health conditions. Patients have been telling us for decades that this practice is producing better outcomes than the use of opioid-based medications. It’s past time for the medical profession to get over their reefer madness and start working with the medical cannabis movement and industry to slow down the destruction being caused by the overprescribing and overuse of opioids.”
Ms. Reiman is correct, it is time to put aside politics and recognize that cannabis is safer than OxyContin, Fentanyl, and other lethal prescribed narcotics. It is shameful that prohibitionists are exacerbating a deadly epidemic due to their outdated Reefer Madness mindset. Thanks to overwhelming public support, we will soon retire these Drug War dinosaurs so the entire nation can benefit from medical cannabis. Unfortunately, too many people will unnecessary have their lives ruined, or even prematurely ended because too many politicians seek to wage a disastrous War on Drugs that denies access to medical marijuana while pushing more dangerous and addictive drugs upon our citizens.