The underbelly of the capitalist beast that is the United States government is working to get to the bottom of the claims that have surfaced over the past couple of years, suggesting that medical marijuana is effective at reducing opioid consumption in adults suffering from chronic pain.

It was revealed last week that the National Institutes of Health recently awarded a $3.8 million grant to the scientific minds at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System to conduct a five-year investigation to determine whether cannabis medicine could be used as an alternative to prescription painkillers.

This is the first time Uncle Sam has ever coughed up a single cent to delve deeper into an increasing body of evidence pointing to cannabis as the trapdoor out of the opioid epidemic.

“There is a lack of information about the impact of medical marijuana on opioid use in those with chronic pain,” Chinazo Cunningham, M.D., M.S., associate chief of general internal medicine at Einstein and Montefiore, said in a statement. “We hope this study will fill in the gaps and provide doctors and patients with some much needed guidance.”

The study, which will consist of around 250 HIV positive and HIV negative patients presently enrolled in New York’s medical marijuana program, will examine pain reports in the form of “web-based questionnaires” to see with which medicine (cannabis or opioids) patients are experiencing the most success.

Researchers will also collect a series of blood and urine samples throughout the course of the next 18-months, as well as conduct “in-depth” interviews with the respondents to learn more about how they feel about the opioid versus medical marijuana debate.

Although President Trump announced last week that he was on the verge of declaring the opioid crisis a “national emergency,” his administration has not, so far, given any consideration to medical marijuana.

In fact, Trump, who suffered an embarrassing weekend for failing to condemn racist violence in Virginia, is reportedly considering “all things” with respect to putting a leash on the ongoing opioid problem, yet the idea of marijuana legalization seems to be missing from the equation.

Meanwhile, millions of people suffering from severe pain are leaning on opioid painkillers to make them feel human again—a situation that has caused a steady uptick in overdose deaths over the past 10 years.

Some of the latest data suggests that opioid deaths in hospital ICU’s have doubled since 2009.

An analysis from New York Times estimates that nearly 60,000 people died last year as a result of an opioid overdose.

Researchers hope their findings will lead to a solution.

“As state and federal governments grapple with the complex issues surrounding opioids and medical marijuana, we hope to provide evidence-based recommendations that will help shape responsible and effective healthcare practices and public policies,” Cunningham said.

You can keep up with all of HIGH TIMES’ marijuana news right here.

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