Legal marijuana to fight opioids?

Published 8:45 am Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Legalized marijuana, in various forms, has been gaining more and more traction in America in recent years. According to a data chart published at governing.com, 30 states and the District of Columbia have some form of legalized marijuana available.

As of Jan. 1 this year, California began sales for recreational-use marijuana while Massachusetts expects to begin sales in July. Marijuana laws from state to state vary, but most of them allow legal use of marijuana to some degree.

The conversation regarding legalizing the use of the plant for medical purposes in Kentucky has gained steam.

According to an article from WHAS11.com, supporters of medical use in Kentucky have spoken to and promoted marijuana’s potential as an alternative to opioid painkillers and are making their case to a legislative committee. The House Judiciary Committee heard testimony Monday but took no action on a bill that would strictly regulate the introduction of medical marijuana.

Democratic Rep. John Sims Jr. says Kentucky’s lack of a medical marijuana law has created a “medical refugee crisis.” He says Kentuckians are uprooted to seek the treatment in states where medical cannabis is legal.

Sims says legalizing medical cannabis would combat Kentucky’s deadly addiction woes from opioid painkillers. The opioid epidemic is an often discussed and ongoing blight not only in southeastern Kentucky, but in Appalachia and the south.

There has been research conducted that suggests legal medical marijuana can severely cut into the opioid issue. An article published at ScientificAmerican.com cites data that shows that states with legal medical marijuana report fewer deaths related to opioids.

As of 2017, the National Institute on Drug Abuse states that although many trials have taken place on the benefits of marijuana to treat illness, there is still a lack of definitive proof that the rewards outweigh the risks.

The proposed bill would strictly regulate and license use of medical cannabis, and with regulation and licensing comes quality control.

Committee Chairman Joe Fischer said the panel will take up the bill again at a later time.