The Department of Health in Rhode Island has scheduled a public hearing early next month to collect views about a petition that calls for cannabis to be used to help people wean off prescription opioids.
Prescription opioid overdoses were found to be responsible for the death of 336 people in 2016 while the number of such fatalities in 2017 was 323. From the start of 2018 to September 2018, the fatalities from prescription overdoses were 220.
The public hearing will take place on February 6 starting at 10a.m at the auditorium of the DOH. Thereafter the department will review the feedback that it collects from different stakeholders before reviewing the available medical literature on the use of medical cannabis instead of prescription opioids.
The Department of Health will also contact clinicians and different researchers in order to learn what their opinion is on this matter.
Finally, a definitive decision on the petition will be made by the Department of Health. The law stipulates that a final decision has to be made on such petitions within 180 days from the time that the petition was received. This means that a final decision should be made by April 15 since the petition was received in October last year.
If Rhode Island decides to approve the use of medical cannabis in the place of prescription opioids, the patients may most likely consume their cannabis as edibles. However, people will also be free to smoke it or apply it topically as an ointment.
The CDC estimates that countrywide, more than 72,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2017 alone. That figure was 10 percent higher than the opioid fatalities recorded in 2016. There is no sign that this trend of opioid dependency and overdoses will slow down soon, so there is an urgent need to find ways to deal with the crisis.
The outcome of the petition in Rhode Island may well hold the key to turning the tide on this epidemic since there are indicators that cannabis can help people to deal with chronic pain. If Rhode Island proves that this is the case, then a major revolution will take shape starting with the states where medical cannabis is legal, and spreading to the others where medical cannabis is yet to be legalized. Who knows, the federal government may eventually rethink its position on medical cannabis.
For now, the focus is on the upcoming public hearing and the eventual decision that will be made. Industry players like Redfund Capital Corp. (CSE: LOAN) (OTC: PNNRF) (Frankfurt: O3X4) and Plus Products Inc. (CSE: PLUS) hope that the hearing and the analysis thereafter brings an outcome that is in the best interest of patients.
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