How Marijuana could help ease the opioid crisis – Zach Toillion – Medium

Marijuana is recreational in 10 states+DC. Medical Marijuana (in some forms) is approved in 33 states and DC. A majority of voters as well as adults support marijuana being fully legalized. An even larger majority favor the legalization of medicinal marijuana. This public sentiment crosses party lines, age, and nearly all demographics.

From a risk standpoint, there’s one drug that is superior to all sorts of treatment plans being offered by current pharmaceuticals. One medications has uses for both anxiety and is good at pain relief. But unlike current drugs like Morphine and Xanax overdoses on Marijuana have never killed a single person. Marijuana can even be useful to cancer patients, since Marijuana also stimulates hunger. When we consider that legal substances that are available over the counter (like alcohol) are empirically more deadly, it doesn’t make sense to continue the mindless policy of marijuana prohibition that has plagued our Republic since the 1938.

How was marijuana banned in the first place? The arguments used to originally ban the substance were racial. Claims that “negroes” would rape white women after smoking it were widely promoted in propaganda films such as “Reefer Madness” in the 1930’s. There was a business tycoon by the name of William Randolph Hearst. He had a ton of money invested in companies that hemp products were going to make less profitable. Hearst owned a publishing empire, and used that empire to demonize marijuana in a way almost unique in American history.

This history is especially important now. Throughout the last year in a half, America has had to come to terms with it’s insatiable appetite for opioids. There are many things to blame in the current opined crisis. The first to share blame are the pharmaceutical industry, who through trade conferences with prescribing MDs, lobbyist money flooding Capitol Hill, direct marketing to patients and good old fashion corruption created a situation where extremely powerful opiates were used to treat relatively minor injuries.

Secondly, is the rise of drug use in America, particularly in American Youth, and white middle aged folk. (Mostly Men) The one demographic whose average life expectancy saw a decrease from previous generation.

In this sense, the opioid epidemic has been greatly affected by the 2010’s great recession, increased wealth stratification, and changing economic opportunities in vast swaths of the county. Addiction is most compelling to those who have fallen on incredibly difficult times.

No case is this better illustrated than West Virginia. West Virginia is the state worst hit by the opioid epidemic. In the last decade or so, Coal states like West Virginia have seen profound economic losses. To a lesser degree, all of Appalachia has found itself in a similar situation, both in terms of economic hard times and the spread of the opioid addiction

The problem is, Morphine and similar drugs are essentially synthesized Heroin. Yet any decent person still realizes it is a needed drug in cases of other worldly pain. Morphine can kill, and will kill more as time goes on, but it is also currently needed for patients with chronic disease. Unfortunately, because we use so many Opioids, The USA has had the most overdoes deaths by a factor of 7 over it’s nearest competitor.

But we can’t just eliminate opioids overnight. Regulations on opioids have also hurt the people who are most in need of pain medication. What’s needed is a comprehensive Opioid crisis treatment plan not focusing on punitive measures, but instead getting people help.

As alluded to earlier, Marijuana legalization may be the magic bullet in this crisis Pot is not physically addicting. Alcohol and Cigarettes are. Pot is psychologically addicting-but so are many other activities like gambling. Pot is less psychologically addicting than any other drug-legal or illegal according to DSM-IV, and it enjoys a lot of support. Marijuana was legalized almost everywhere it was on the ballot. It’s time for lawmakers to end the prohibition, because prohibitions never work and this time there are many people who could be helped.

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Thanks !

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