Opioid overdoses killed in excess of 33,000 people in 2015 and continue to ruin millions of lives, while our ill-equipped government dawdles with absurd and punitive solutions.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions refuses to view the situation as a public-health crisis but rather insists on criminalizing, penalizing and filling jails—the exact wrong path to take.
Sessions’ stubborn insistence on disregarding scientific consensus regarding the role cannabis can play in stemming the opioid epidemic actually threatens to make it worse.
While the Justice Department clings to the irrational classification of cannabis as a Schedule I drug, therefore hindering scientific research (not to mention filling up prisons), the rest of the world moves forward.
Earlier this year, the National Academies of Sciences Engineering Medicine (NASEM) published a rigorous review of scientific research that included more than 10,000 peer-reviewed studies, which supported conclusive evidence that cannabis is clinically effective in treating a number of illnesses and conditions—from epilepsy and mental health disorders, to injuries and pain.
Dr. Yasmin Hurd, director of the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, laments the fact that the U.S. government continues to obstruct important cannabis research.
“I understand the cautious nature of the government… but it is disappointing that marijuana continues to be included on the DEA’s list of the most dangerous drugs,” said Hurd, who studies the effects of marijuana on the brain.
It is especially disappointing in view of the opioid crisis, because cannabidiol (CBD) reverses some of the brain changes that occur with heroin use, according to Hurd’s own studies published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
Hurd says that CBD is the more important compound when it comes to marijuana as a treatment for addiction. In terms of the wider scope of medical marijuana research, she points out that it is the “same cannabidiol being looked at for the kids with epilepsy.”
It has already been reported that the clinical use of cannabis could mean enormous savings for government health insurance programs, currently a national obsession as the Trump administration tries to strip half the country of healthcare so billionaires can have even bigger tax cuts than they already enjoy. But that’s another story.
The biggest savings would come from reduced prescriptions for pain medications, a large amount of which are opioids.
This explains why states that have approved MMJ are experiencing fewer opioid-related deaths.
While the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) tepidly acknowledged the evidence in the NASEM study, it still noted, “medical marijuana products may have a role in reducing the use of opioids needed to control pain.”
Therefore, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, isn’t it abundantly clear that a war on marijuana is a war on those who need it most: people already suffering from pain and people whose opioid addictions where brought on by that very pain?
Isn’t it abundantly clear that medical marijuana is just that—medical?
Jeff Sessions and other lawmakers really need to get off their high horses and stop moralizing about drugs.
Read the damn literature and let people have their medicine. The entire country will thank you.