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Can Medical Marijuana Help Combat Ohio’s Opioid Crisis?

Travis Irvine Travis Irvine Can Medical Marijuana Help Combat Ohio’s Opioid Crisis?
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As medical marijuana becomes a talking point of Ohio’s 2018 election season, some candidates are questioning whether or not our soon-to-be-launched program will help fight the state’s opioid crisis, and if Ohio should go the way of full marijuana legalization. In 2016, the state legislature also considered the possibilities of what the new medical marijuana law could do to alleviate the amount of opioid related deaths in the state while they drafted the legislation.

In fact, the majority of research does support claims that marijuana can be used to reduce pain and increase the appetites of patients dealing with a variety of diseases. From cancer to Multiple Sclerosis to PTSD to seizures, marijuana and other hemp products have been proven to help people suffering from various types of pain, as marijuana provides many of the same aspects of relief that opioids provide for the body, but with less risk of fatal addiction. That last important fact makes it clear that cannabis products are obviously safer than any type of opioid, per the Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Kevin Hill, “You may end up in the emergency room, but you’re not going to have a fatal overdose from marijuana.”

Other studies are also pretty clear on this fact, and it doesn’t just relate to the reduction of opioid use. Some show that 75 percent of those using pharmaceuticals were able to replace or reduce their intake of certain pills in favor of medical marijuana. Even for minor issues like anxiety, depression and insomnia — for which plenty of other pharmaceuticals are certainly prescribed — marijuana can help alleviate those symptoms as well. Up to 40 conditions have been found to be treatable with cannabis, and that’s without proper government research actually being done since marijuana is still labeled as dangerous as heroin (thanks to federal drug laws.)

Some states have already seen some success in reducing opioid use by implementing medical marijuana laws — states with cannabis laws on the books had 25 percent fewer opioid related deaths than those without, which is a great start. Furthermore, there are always economic factors at work as well, as the opioid crisis is costing US citizens over $78 billion a year. Why spend that kind of money fighting a crisis when people, businesses and governments could make billions fighting the same crisis by legalizing a safer, more natural drug?

It’s hard to say if politicians will be able make the case in Ohio in 2018, but for many Ohioans the results are definitely real. However, with Ohio’s medical marijuana law going into effect in September, there are still several hurdles in place for doctors to prescribe the drug, such as lack of health insurance coverage for patients or red tape that makes it difficult for doctors to register to prescribe it. Some doctors who don’t even want to prescribe the whole plant are unclear about how to prescribe only parts of it, such as specific oils and known compounds that work.

No matter what happens, the science is clear that medical marijuana provides a safer alternative to many of those who need it — and the longer Ohio waits, the longer our opioid related deaths will remain a “crisis.”

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