Colorado Congressman Jared Polis, who is surrendering his seat in the House to run for governor, continued his long fight for sensible marijuana law reform this week. He announced his intention to prevent federal agencies from interfering with state law.
“I will push back on any federal effort to interfere with our laws and not share information if it’s not related to a criminal investigation under our own law or ordered by a court,” Polis said on Monday. “The federal government has very limited law enforcement resources in the states, most of law enforcement is in the hands of cities, counties, and the state and so as long as we don’t cooperate it would be hard, almost impossible, for there to be a major federal-only enforcement action.”
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Later in the week, Polis sent a letter to Eric D. Hargan, acting secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, asking the agency to investigate cannabis as an alternative treatment to opioids for pain. The letter reads:
Recent studies published by qualified academic researchers suggest that marijuana may prove to be a useful alternative treatment for chronic pain instead of harmful, addictive prescription opioids, and that marijuana may reduce the overall number of opioid overdose deaths.
- A 2014 JAMA International Medicine study analyzed all 50 states and found that those with medical marijuana law had 25% fewer fatal opioid overdoses than states that had no such laws between 1999 and 2010.
- A HealthAffairs study published last year looked at Medicare Part D prescribing data and found that with the implementation of state medical marijuana laws, among prescriptions for pain there was a reduction of o1,826 daily doses filled per prescriber per year. This same study also found that due to implemented medical marijuana laws, Medicare Part D savings were over $165 million among seventeen states and the District of Columbia on 2013.
- A 2016 Journal of Pain survey of chronic pain patients found that among participants there was some suggested benefit to medical marijuana use, such as fewer side effects to medication, a 64% reduction in overall opioid use, and an improved quality of life among half patients.
- A report released in January 2017 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine compiled research from over 10,000 studies on marijuana and its components. The report states that “in adults with chronic pain, patients who were treated with cannabis or cannabinoids are more likely to experience a clinically significant reduction in pain symptoms.” This report also concluded that “there is substantial evidence that cannabis is an effective treatment for chronic pain in adults.”
You can read the entire letter here.