The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration may soon be forced to admit that the cannabis plant does, in fact, have therapeutic properties – that is, if federal health agencies continue to admit that medical marijuana laws seem to be taming the nationwide opioid problems.
It was recently revealed that the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) updated its webpage on marijuana, specifically detailing its uncanny ability to lower the use of prescription opioids in states where it is legal.
When mentioning two government-funded studies, the agency said, “Medical marijuana products may have a role in reducing the use of opioids needed to control pain.”
The federal government has maintained for decades that marijuana belongs in a Schedule I listing because it has no known medicinal benefit. This classification has hindered research, making it difficult for science to truly get a grip on the powers of this plant.
However, pointing to the first study, NIDA said it “found an association between medical marijuana legalization and a reduction in overdose deaths from opioid pain relievers.” It went on to explain that this phenomenon has “strengthened in each year following the implementation of legislation.”
These findings suggest that cannabis is effective enough in the treatment of pain conditions for some patients to use it as a replacement for dangerous prescription drugs. And from the way it sounds, more are making the switch every year.
In the second study, the agency said it has come to find “that legally protected access to medical marijuana dispensaries is associated with lower levels of opioid prescribing, lower self-report of nonmedical prescription opioid use, lower treatment admissions for prescription opioid use disorders, and reduction in prescription opioid overdose deaths.”
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The study went on to clarify that “the reduction in deaths was present only in states with dispensaries (not just medical marijuana laws) and was greater in states with active dispensaries.”
Overall, it seems that Uncle Sam is finally starting to understand how marijuana could be more of a benefit to civil society if it were allowed to completely emerge from the underground.
The only problem is the pharmaceutical industry will likely do everything in its power to prevent medical marijuana from sabotaging its multi-billion dollar pain pill sector. Some of the latest reports show that opioid medications could represent an $18 billion market by 2021.
Although NIDA admits that more research is needed before it truly has an understanding of marijuana’s impact on opioid-related problems, the agency is apparently backing additional studies that could eventually be used to inspire governing forces to support nationwide legalization. As it stands, the information published by health agencies, like NIDA, is what many federal lawmakers reference when discussing the marijuana issue on Capitol Hill. The more science shows that cannabis does in fact have medicinal properties; the harder it will be for Congress to maintain prohibition.