By Ed Coghlan
One of the nation’s most influential U.S. Senators thinks medical marijuana should be studied as a way to address the nation’s opioid issue.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) asked the Centers for Disease Control to work with other federal agencies “to fill the gap in our knowledge about” medical marijuana’s ability to help combat the opioid epidemic.
Warren asked the federal agency to consider and study “the use, uptake, and effectiveness of medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids for pain treatment in states where it is legal.”
Here’s her letter to the CDC.
While recreational marijuana is legal in four states, and medical marijuana is legal in 23 states, the drug remains illegal under federal laws. That has held back any serious research.
Marijuana is a “Schedule I” substance. Researchers who want to study the drug need a license from the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the approval of the FDA.
There are some data that medical marijuana might help reduce opioid abuse.
“Our findings suggest that providing broader access to medical marijuana may have the potential benefit of reducing abuse of highly addictive painkillers.”
That’s a conclusion from a working paper from David Powell and Rosalie Pacula of the RAND Corporation and Mireille Jacobson of the University of California, Irvine.
The researchers compared treatment admissions for opioid pain reliever misuse and state-level opioid overdose deaths. They found decreases in misuse and deaths in states with medical marijuana dispensaries, but they didn’t find decreases in states that allow medical marijuana without dispensaries.
It appears it isn’t whether medical marijuana is legalized as much whether there is access to medicinal marijuana through dispensaries.
Presidential candidates are timid on the issue, most of them either against it or asking for more research.
There should be more studies and large-scale clinical trials, especially if they can prove good ways to separate pot’s psychoactive effects while keeping its maximum medical benefits — as low-THC, high-CBD strains of marijuana purport to do.
Here’s a review of the research to date on medical marijuana, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, that looked at 79 studies that tested cannabis’s medicinal effectiveness among nearly 6,500 patients.
For more on this story on MSN, click here.
The National Pain Report has written extensively on medical marijuana. For some previous reporting, click here.