Legalizing marijuana could stem the use of opioids

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Madeline Miller
SENIOR REPORTER

The world of chronic pain is far beyond the reach of most people’s imaginations. The idea of spending most, if not all, of the time with some level of discomfort is not something to which everyone can relate. It is the cursed few that suffer pain in ways lucky people can only hope to avoid experiencing.

The reality is that chronic pain patients have always suffered tragically high suicide rates due to constant suffering and comorbid mental disorders directly related to physical illnesses, and those rates are poised to make a jump with the recent crackdown on opioid prescriptions. There is something that can still help: marijuana.

Opponents of opioids fail to recognize the difference between addiction and dependence. Chronic pain patients are often dependent on opioids to be able to perform basic daily functions. Opioids have allowed patients to live not without pain, but with significant more physical and mental ability. They have allowed patients to live alone.

While they perform a vital function, opioids also come with a heavy price tag. Embarrassing, dangerous and debilitating side effects cause more frustration for chronic pain patients. Medical cannabis has none of these side effects, and CBD, the chemical found in marijuana that has medicinal benefits, can often relieve pain better than the strongest opioids available.

CBD has been known to calm seizures, provide instant and effective pain relief and sometimes benefit mental health. All without the serious side effects of opioids that have led to the recent crackdown.

Despite this, marijuana remains classed as a Schedule I drug by the Drug Enforcement administration, which is supposed to be for drugs at a high risk for abuse with no recognized medical benefits. Marijuana, a non-fatal drug with a growing list of possible uses in the medical world, is more tightly controlled and feared by the U.S. government than fentanyl, a highly lethal drug that has been killing heroin users and putting first responders in danger nationwide.

Marijuana, if utilized correctly, has the potential to almost completely eradicate the need for opioids at all, and yet it is kept out of the hands of those who could use it most by those who have the most to gain from keeping it illegal.

The prohibition of marijuana directly benefits those profiting off the so-called drug war, including drug cartels that make fortunes transporting illegal goods over national borders. Legalizing marijuana pulls the cartels’ legs out from under them and leaves them scrambling.

It would also allow the purchasing and sale of a useful commodity to be done safely and securely. Victims of scams and violence would not need to fear incriminating themselves by reporting dangerous behavior to police.

Legalization and decriminalization bring disenfranchised people out of the dark, criminal underbelly and into the safety of public awareness.

Legalizing medical marijuana, specifically CBD, has the potential to end the opioid crisis and give relief to suffering patients everywhere. It should not be kept out of reach by a misguided, uninformed, outdated government.

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