It’s not new news that marijuana can be used to treat pain – people have been saying it for years and patients have been proving it for the last twenty since medical marijuana first made its way to California.
The problem isn’t that people aren’t saying it and aren’t standing by it – the problem is they haven’t been able to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt – not yet at least. More and more research is compiled each year as legalization moves forward and it all points in the same direction – marijuana is likely the safest alternative to opiate painkillers.
Yet we still here, there isn’t enough research. So instead of waiting around for someone else to do it, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren took it upon herself to write a letter to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) asking them to do further research on marijuana’s effects as a way to reduce opiate addiction.
“Our country is faced with an opioid epidemic that only continues to grow at an alarming pace……Opioid abuse is a national concern and warrants swift and immediate action.”
The letter goes on to lay out some of the numbers when it comes to opiate related deaths in the U.S., the fact that the U.S. prescribes 75% of all the opiates in the world and that hydrocodone and Vicodin were prescribed to more Medicaid/Medicare patients than any other drug.
All this points to the seriously devastating “epidemic” as it has been described as of late that revolves around opiate addiction leading to accidental overdose. There are a lot of steps being taken already – which Warren kindly points out with support to work faster to find a solution – however alone these steps will not be enough to contain the problem that has evolved.
Along with that however, she suggested researching in a few particular areas:
- The effect opiates have on children treated at a young age
- The effectiveness of medical marijuana as an alternative to opiates in states that have chosen to legalize it
- The impact legalization of medical and recreational marijuana on the number of opiate related overdose deaths
- The increased use of fentanyl (including sources)
- How fentanyl could be contributing to opiate related deaths
These are all important things that are not being addressed by the CDC or any government officials for that matter. Fentanyl has been a huge problem here in Florida and especially in my county – and from the sounds of it the dangers of fentanyl drastically increase the chance of an overdose – the CDC should be more concerned about how quickly it is spreading.
More importantly, however, is the fact that she directly asks for research about the effectiveness of medical marijuana as an alternative to opiates – something that could save thousands of lives that may be lost to accidental overdose.
States that have legalized medical marijuana have seen a drastic 24.8% decrease in opiate related overdoses since legalization occurred. If that’s not proof enough that it needs to be considered on a grander scale, I don’t know what is.
This letter represents the growing support within our government for a plant that has the potential to help millions of people. Each small step like this will hopefully lead to a future where cannabis is a legal option for anyone who needs it.