While there is increasing evidence that medical marijuana could be a viable alternative to opioids in terms of pain management, a new report indicates that Congress is still not prepared to give the scientific community the green light to dig any deeper into this progressive concept.
Earlier last week, the U.S. House Rules Committee voted against two proposed amendments that would have required a special pain management task force to consider how weed might be used as an alternative or in conjunction with prescription painkillers.
Both amendments, submitted by Representatives Dana Rohrabacher and Jared Polis, would have given Uncle Sam’s new painkiller detail, a crew consisting of various federal drug and health agencies, the opportunity to look into “the potential for marijuana to serve as an alternative to opioids for pain management,” as well as conduct research that compares “the medical application of marijuana and opioids for pain management.”
In an effort to sell the importance of allowing the task force to include medical marijuana in its review, Polis explained before the House Committee that medical marijuana has already shown significant promise in deterring overdose incidents stemming from the abuse of prescription narcotics.
“Medical marijuana is a possible and likely way to reduce opioid prescription painkiller abuse for chronic pain,” Polis said. “And unfortunately, it’s hardly been explored due to government policy, in large part because of the federal government’s monopoly on legal cultivation and studies.”
Pointing out a number of prominent studies, Polis said that while he does not expect medical marijuana to have a flawless success rate when it comes to the treatment of severe pain, it is worth including in the upcoming federal examination because “it does work for some patients.”
“If it can avoid going onto narcotics like opioids, which often lead to abuse, I think it can be an important part of the arsenal in dealing with this plague and epidemic of opioid abuse,” Polis said.
According to Marijuana.com, the Rules Committee decided against allowing the two amendments to advance to the House floor. The congressional panel also rejected a third amendment, which in addition to Polis had the support of Representatives Scott Perry and Bob Dold, that would have prevented cannabidiol (CBD), the non-intoxicating compound of the cannabis plant, from being treated as a controlled substance.
However, once all of the pro-marijuana amendments were eliminated from the table, the pain management research bill was swiftly approved on the House floor in a vote of 255-to-163.
Unfortunately, this means that thousands of Americans will likely continue to die every year as a result of opioid overdoses, while a promising solution—one which is now legal in almost half the nation—remains an outlawed medication in the eyes of the federal government.
(Photo Courtesy of The Daily Chronic)