Marijuana Doctors says physicians started prescribing opioid painkillers at a higher rate during the late 1990’s. They say at this time, physicians believed these drugs were non-addictive, but as people can see now, that’s not the case.
Julie Mack of Mlive explains how opioid prescriptions in Michigan have risen 41% from 2009 to 2015. She says, according to state data, Michigan healthcare providers wrote enough prescriptions for opioid drugs in 2015 and 2016 to provide every Michigan resident with his or her own bottle of narcotics. In fact, she says Michiganders are twice as likely to overdose on prescription painkillers than heroin.
Many have been questioning whether the medical cannabis industry could help combat the overwhelming opioid crisis. In December 2017, a national marijuana patient advocacy group called Americans for Safe Access distributed a blueprint explaining how cannabis medicines can help break the addiction cycle in prescription pain medication abuse.
This paper uses Michigan as a case study in order to see the correlation between the effectiveness of the state’s medical marijuana program and the decreasing amount of deaths and hospitalizations reported. Based on national statistics, ASA reported that, “Michigan’s medical marijuana program resulted in 531 lives saved and 23% fewer hospitalizations in Michigan from opioid exposure.”
After proving an increase in lives saved due to medical marijuana, ASA continues by explaining how more than 5 million Michigan residents currently can’t register for medical cannabis use due to things, including, living in poverty or assisted living situations, employers testing for cannabis, and being a federal employee or an organ donor.
They say these limitations are a problem and suggest that advocates and legislators respond to the enrollment crisis with the following actions: pass laws to allow hospice and assisted living facilities to use medical cannabis on the premises and become caregivers, create low-income and hardship waivers for ID costs, pass laws banning drug testing for THC for employment, create a Medical Cannabis Research and Development Fund and more.
In their blueprint, ASA includes a draft of legislation that would modify the MMMA and other laws in order to help accomplish most of these changes.
To view the full blueprint, visit safeaccessnow.org/opioidblueprint and click download the report.