Across the U.S., more than 130 people die each day due to overdosing on opioids. Colorado has permitted medical marijuana to be used as a way to combat this crisis, at least within its borders. This makes Colorado the third state in the country to give doctors permission to discuss medical marijuana with their patients who need opioids to deal with their acute or post-operative pain.
The other states that have this provision are Illinois and New York. Two other states (New Jersey and Pennsylvania) have allowed patients diagnosed with opioid use disorder to consider medical marijuana as a treatment option.
While the supporters of this new law say that it will help to curb the opioid crisis in the state, there is insufficient scientific research to support this assertion. One of the studies which is cited to prove that medical marijuana can curb the opioid crisis is a study which was published in JAMA in 2014.
That research found that there was a 25 percent drop in the number of people dying from opioid overdoses in the states where medical marijuana is legal. The data analyzed covered the years between 1999 and 2010.
However, other studies done on the subject have come up with opposite conclusions, with a recent study which expanded the timeframe to 2017 revealing that opioid overdoses increased by almost 23 percent in the states with legal medical marijuana.
As the scientific community works round the clock to build consensus on how useful medical marijuana may be in stemming the tide of deaths associated with opioids, state lawmakers have gone ahead to enact policies and laws permitting the use of marijuana as an alternative to prescription meds for pain. These lawmakers believe that giving patients more options will empower them to choose what they believe will work for them instead of being forced to use opioids, thereby exposing themselves to the well-documented harmful side effects of these drugs.
For example, the state of Illinois launched its Opioid Alternative Pilot Program in January this year in order to gather data on how patients manage their pain if they are allowed to use medical marijuana instead of opioids. So far, 2,000 patients have signed up.
The entire cannabis industry believes that industry players, such as Geyser Brands Inc. (TSX.V: GYSR) and Golden Developing Solutions Inc. (OTC: DVLP), hope that the patient data collected will provide proof that medical marijuana can play a part in taming the opioid crisis.
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