Remiss to overlook marijuana for a nonaddictive solution to the opioid crisis

Regarding Josh Bloom and Alex Berezow’s “Trump and Christie’s First Steps to Solving the Opioid Crisis” (WSJ op-ed, May 16):

WSJ Opinion – Shooting Up Arguments in the Opioid Crisis

Paul S. McCullough, M.D.

Bremerton, Wash.

May 21, 2017

In calling for more nonaddictive painkillers to solve the opioid crisis, Messrs. Bloom and Berezow are remiss to overlook medical marijuana.

There exists compelling scientific evidence that chronic-pain patients find marijuana to be a safer, more effective alternative to opioids and other more dangerous prescription drugs. Recent National Institute on Drug Abuse studies have found that states with legal access to medical marijuana have significant reductions in opioid overdose deaths, lower levels of opioid prescribing and lower nonmedical opioid abuse. Other studies have estimated that medical cannabis could save over $1 billion in Medicaid and $165 million in Medicare costs. Marijuana appears to be particularly useful for chronic neuropathic pain like that caused by back injuries, a type of pain for which opioids are notably ineffectual but widely overprescribed.

Given the current opioid crisis, the fact that marijuana remains on the Schedule I list of federally banned substances is a prime example of an obsolescent, dysfunctional government regulation that this administration would do well to repeal.

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