On 26th October, President Donald Trump ordered the declaration of USA’s opioid epidemic as a “public health emergency”. Given the gravity of the situation, it was truly comforting to hear his downright confrontation of the issue as “public shame”. However, the declaration did leave majority of Americans scratching their heads confused and wondering what legal action would actually follow. Given the fact that Trump would not allocate federal funding to counter the crisis, it is clear that his intentions to curb opioid use may be limited to mere words and not action. Even more confusing is President Trump’s unclear view of the marijuana laws, the one substance that could serve as a potent alternative to opioids and lifesaver to tens of thousands of Americans annually.
According to the National Institute for Drug Abuse and Health, a total of 64,070 cases of drug overdoses were reported last year alone, a figure that has doubled in a decade.
What Trump said before-
Keep in mind that Trump did promise to protect medical cannabis during campaign trail, but now the Justice Department aims to be more aggressive against state legal marijuana under the CSA.
“In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state,” Trump said during a Nevada rally in Oct. 2015.
In February this year, Trump told Fox News host Bill O’Reilly that he was “in favor of medical marijuana 100 percent” and was aware of its benefits, but later backtracked when asked if he supported Colorado’s recreational marijuana industry.
What Trump is saying now-
Trump has maintained his silence on state marijuana laws since May. Even though he indicated that the Department of Justice will not use any funds to prevent implementation of marijuana laws in various States & territories, that doesn’t hide the fact that he’s missing out on the bigger picture.
Marijuana is still a Schedule 1 drug, placing it among the ranks of other dangerous drugs like meth and heroin. This makes it extremely difficult for medical researchers to test it’s medicinal value and determine its viability as a medical alternative.
If that wasn’t discouraging enough, consider this. Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions strongly opposes marijuana legalization. In June, the Washington Post reported a letter written by Sessions to the Congress to prevent states from implementing cannabis laws “particularly in the midst of a historic drug epidemic”. Simply put, Sessions used the opioid crisis as an explanation for not legalizing medical marijuana, even when his colleagues were suggesting otherwise.
How can marijuana help America’s opioid crisis?
- Several studies have shown that medical marijuana is extremely helpful in reducing chronic pain, reduce the drug-seeking behavior, diminish withdrawal symptoms, and limit cravings.
- Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania did find that opiate-related deaths decreased by almost one-third in 13 states after medical marijuana was legalized.
- A study from last year surveyed 244 medical marijuana patients from Michigan, where medical cannabis use was linked with a 64% reduction in opioid use.
- Most recently, in a national survey conducted by American Legion, it was More than 80 percent of veterans support legalizing medicinal use of marijuana and are willing to use it as a potential treatment option, according to a national survey released Thursday by the American Legion.
What lies ahead?
By announcing opioid abuse as a nationwide epidemic, but providing no funding to go along with it, it is very likely that this would cause further criminalization of users. Even though Trump maintains his resolve to fight the opioid addiction, his actions seem to indicate something entirely else. His tax plan aims to implement a $1 trillion deduction in Medicaid funding. Since Medicaid provides health care to lower income individuals and serves as a major tool in combating the aforesaid epidemic, Trump needs more than just words to support his dedication to the cause.
Now, victims of chronic pain in the U.S. are currently faced to choose between opioid prescriptions, limited access to medical cannabis or FDA approved pain killers.
Millions of Americans are already benefitting from medical marijuana’s benefits. It is high time that Congress realizes this and place public welfare ahead of politics. Afterall, only doctors can decide the best treatment for a nation’s patients, not politicians.
Speaking of California specifically, the cost of marijuana may increase up to 45% for recreational cannabis users in 2018. On the other hand, taxes on medical marijuana would be comparatively less. Coupled with the fact that medical marijuana users can also avail a higher grow limit and better access to marijuana strains, it would be advisable for Californians to opt for a medical card right now.
To stay updated with the latest news in California’s medical marijuana industry, make sure to read the articles on our website.