Medical marijuana has been considered a safe alternative to opioids, and a new law will allow patients in Colorado the option.
Governor Jared Polis signed legislation this week to expand the state’s medical marijuana program to cover conditions that could be treated with opioids.
Opioid addiction has been a big problem in many parts of the U.S. and it’s something that didn’t go unnoticed by the Colorado Governor:
However, many medical professionals are still not convinced medical marijuana is the best alternative, often citing a lack of research and insufficient data on its effectiveness. While there is no shortage of anecdotal evidence, it remains hard to assess the risks and rewards of using marijuana as a treatment option.
While Gov. Polis acknowledged more research is needed on medical marijuana, he still believes it should be available for patients, noting the number of opioid deaths makes it necessary to provide options:
In light of these statistics, it is incumbent on our lawmakers to provide physicians with opportunities to discuss alternatives to opioids and to provide patients with choices even if additional research regarding medical marijuana is necessary.
According to data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there were 47,600 deaths in the U.S. related to opioids in 2017. In 2007, there were only 18,515 opioid-related deaths. It’s a significant problem that needs addressing and one that medical marijuana could help solve.
Many medical marijuana users say it offers pain relief for their symptoms, with many using cannabis after exhausting all options. And with no deaths on record for marijuana overdoses, doctors consider it a safer option.
– Dr. Eddy Lang, emergency room physician
Colorado law could set precedent on opioid crisis
With Colorado paving the way for cannabis as an opioid alternative, it will be a test study on whether it can reduce opioid-related deaths. If it’s effective in treating pain, it could keep users from turning to opioids and bring down the number of fatalities associated with it.
If Colorado does see positive results, it could open the door for other states for more progressive policies on medical marijuana. Before, stigma kept many physicians and patients away from cannabis, but the Colorado law could further open the door for more clinical research and credible data on medical cannabis, and how it may be be part of solving the opioid epidemic.