Opioids Versus Medical Marijuana Debate Begins


Marijuana has long been viewed as a gateway drug to other more serious substances. However, data from states which marijuana has become legal indicate just the opposite; marijuana helps addicts to stay away from harder drugs, as it is a gateway drug away from more hardcore materials. This also flies in the face of Jeff Sessions, current United States Attorney General, who is staunchly anti-marijuana and has stated that it leads to other drugs, which is not the case. It is now generally accepted that marijuana reduces opiate addiction, though there have been no definitive studies completed.

Arkansas Medical Marijuana

The 18th of September will see medical marijuana legal in Arkansas, and one of the current talking points is that medical marijuana will reduce opiate use. Though there have been no definitive studies completed, it has been noted that in all states where marijuana use has been legalized, the number of opiate prescriptions have dropped. In a 2014 Journal of the American Medical Association studyit wasdemonstratedthat states with legalized marijuana had lower rates of fatal opioid overdose. In states such as Colorado the figure is held to have been as high as 40% As per Rep. Doug House“There are facts and figures out there, but there is not a real comprehensive study out there”. House is the chief architect of the state’s medical pot legislation who did not publicly support the 2016 ballot issue to legalized the substance. It is strange that somebody who is anti-marijuana would for some reason be the overseer of marijuana legalization.

In Arkansas, there are more than a dozen qualifying conditions approved under the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act of 2017, including cancer, Lou Gehrig’s disease, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, PTSD, severe arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and other conditions that produce chronic pain. Researchers have never completed a study on whether medical marijuana can reduce addiction to opiates. While the number of opiate prescriptions may drop following legalization, this could simply be because people choose medical marijuana over opiates. Which most people are going to do given a choice.

There are currently some research studies underway, such as one presently funded by the National Institute of Health to the tune of $3.8 million. But common sense is far more appropriate than waiting 5 years for science to prove that which is obvious to all; that marijuana is a more cost effective and holistic solution to those who are suffering from chronic pain and can help the transition from harmful and addictive chemical substances such as oxycontin. The withdrawal symptoms of opiate addiction as held to be absolutely dreadful. For now, it is definitely a better option to ask your doctor for a medical marijuana prescription. If he or she keeps pushing for an opiate, find another doctor pronto.

Pros and Cons

There is still some opposition to medical marijuana in Arkansas. Some medical practitioners are not convinced that marijuana is enough to treat chronic pain. Which might be the case for very extreme cases of pain, but there are incredibly strong varieties of Indica that are well suited to these cases. I have yet to hear of someone who said that marijuana was not enough to lessen the pain, but there may be extreme cases. In any case, the idea that marijuana should not be legalized because it can’t deal with a select number of cases is a little absurd. Why not legalize the two and let the market decide, as is the simple and obvious solution to a lot of questions which seem to be tricky but areactually quite straightforward? There is a lot of scare mongering going on in states which are due to see legal medical weed, as if it is going to have vast negative implications. It has been legal in California for over 20 years, with little negative and lots of positive associations.

One New Jersey addiction expert, Dr. Indra Cidambi, has stated that it is a gateway to harder drugs from her experience of treating over 2000 patients. This is misleading, as the patients treated were already doing an illegal drug, thus making them more susceptible to taking harder illegal drugs. Her sample set were already criminals, so to speak. This will not be the case with legalization, as ordinary citizens are far more averse to such substances and will not take the risk.

Addiction verses Addiction?

Of a much more substantive note is her claim that up to 10% of people will become dependent. This figure might even be higher. The weed craze has swept the nation and many people believe it is going to eradicate the medical paradigm and cure all ills, as well as dealing a blow to vested pharmaceutical interests. It will do these things, to some small degree. But many will become regular cannabis consumers, and if you believe that people are as productive when they smoke weed as when they are sober, then you are most likely a regular cannabis smoker. Like everything else it is to be used in moderation and only on a daily basis to treat chronic illnesses. A dependency on marijuana and a dependency on opiates are different only to the extent of the dependency and the damage caused. An addiction is an addiction, but at least it is a step closer to total health.