What’s it going to take for us to recognize the value of cannabis in combating the opioid epidemic?
Two recent studies published in the American Medical Association’s peer-reviewed journal demonstrate that opioid use is lower in states where doctors can recommend medical cannabis. The findings back up previous studies showing these same states have seen a 25 percent reduction in opioid overdose deaths, and 23 percent fewer non-fatal opioid hospitalizations. When patients have access to cannabis, they fill fewer opioid prescriptions, consume fewer opioids, overdose less and stay alive. No other policy, clinical intervention, law or pharmaceutical therapy has the kind of impact that cannabis does when it comes to opioid use.
There are 115 opioid-related deaths every day in this country — just over 17 deaths a week for Missouri in 2016. Opioid-related emergency room visits have climbed by about 30 percent nationally in less than a year. In Missouri, they’ve climbed to 21 percent during the same time period. More than 2.5 million people across the country are suffering from opioid addiction, yet action and interventions have been stalled. This crisis drains $500 billion annually from our national economy, but even that isn’t enough to bring cannabis into the discussion.
This isn’t surprising, given the campaigns of