According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 91 Americans die from opioid-related drug overdoses every day. Whether from prescription opioids or heroin, deaths by overdose have quadrupled since 1999. While it’s still too early to rely on historical evidence, researchers are making a strong case for medical marijuana to prevent these statistics from climbing.
How Medical Marijuana Works
Much like opioids, cannabinoids (the compounds found in marijuana) block pain receptors in the brain, thus alleviating many symptoms of serious medical conditions like chronic back pain and cancer.
Roger Pertwee, a British neuropharmacologist who has studied cannabinoids for decades, has shown the human body not only produces its own chemicals that mirror THC (the main component of marijuana that produces the high), the entire endocannabinoid system reacts to the use of marijuana by altering one’s mood, appetite, and pain level.
Setting a Precedent for Medical Marijuana
Though 28 states in the U.S. have legalized medical cannabis, the plant still is considered a Schedule 1 drug under federal law. Not only has that been an inhibitor of the legalization of recreational marijuana, the classification can dissuade individuals from freely obtaining a medical marijuana license. This discrepancy has not stopped the fight toward access to a safe, non-addictive alternative to opioids.
- In 2015, Massachusetts doctors began treating opioid addicts with medical marijuana, and Minnesota listed “chronic pain” as treatable condition with the usage of cannabis.
- Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote the CDC last year to urge the agency to consider medical cannabis as an opioid alternative where legal.
- In April 2016, Maine was the first state to suggest that medical marijuana could treat opioid addiction.
The Impact of Medical Marijuana on Prescription Drugs
Health Affairs has released data pointing to a decline of prescription drug use among Medicare patients in states where a medical marijuana dispensary is available. The findings were pulled from data from 2010-2013 and showed a reduction in spending to the tune of more than $165 million per year.
Point Loma Patient Consumer Co-Operative
If the nation’s growing acceptance of medical marijuana is any indication of its success, the plant’s role in the heroin epidemic is sure to become larger over time.
For more information on how to treat an opioid addiction with safe and natural alternatives, visit the Point Loma Patient Consumer Co-Operative online or in person at their medical marijuana dispensary in San Diego.