A recent telephone poll of 1,122 adults conducted by Yahoo/Marist showed that the majority of Americans think that cannabis for chronic pain is safer than opioids.
Yahoo.com published the results of the poll which found that two-thirds of respondents were convinced painkillers such as OxyContin or Vicodin, prescribed by doctors carried more risk than medical marijuana.
Cannabis for chronic pain vs. opioid dangers
Only one in every five respondents said that medical marijuana is riskier than opioids, and the rest were indecisive. Statistics show that 91 people die of opioid overdoses every day, and many more are resuscitated from the brink of death daily. Experts believe that 2 million Americans are addicted to painkillers right now.
President Donald J. Trump recently appointed a commission to investigate the problem of opioid addiction. Survey respondents were greatly divided in their opinions on how Trump should deal with the question of medical cannabis.
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Leave it up to states
A little more than a third (38%) felt that the Trump administration shouldn’t enforce federal laws against the recreational use of cannabis just as President Barack Obama didn’t. He left it to the states to decide. A little less than a third of respondents (30%) said Trump should take a tougher approach than Obama and enforce federal law. The rest were unsure or preferred the previous administration’s stance.
The Trump administration managed to send contradictory messages to the states in violation of the federal law on cannabis. These 28 states and Washington D.C. heard Trump say, that states should be allowed to adjust and improve marijuana laws.
His Attorney General Jeff Sessions, on the other hand, has made no bones about his opinion and stance on cannabis. He says it is dangerous. States should not be able to make their own laws when marijuana is a Schedule 1 substance and illegal by federal law.
So far, there has been no action against cannabis states by the Department of Justice, or other federal agencies. However, they could enforce the Controlled Substances Act, which forbids any use of marijuana, be it medical or recreational.
Medical cannabis should be legal
The Yahoo/Marist poll found that 83% of respondents agreed that medicinal cannabis should be legal nationally. 70% found it unacceptable for pregnant women to use for pain, or to reduce nausea. As for recommending it for children, half the respondents said it should be allowed, while the other half disagreed. Survey organizers said that they estimate a 2.9 percent margin of error in their results.
Cannabis for pain: scientific findings
Surveys get laypeople’s opinions, but science is evidence-based. So, what do scientific studies show? The Clinical Journal of Pain published a retrospective survey done by the University of Michigan.
185 patients from medical cannabis dispensaries in Ann Arbor, Michigan, reported their opioid use when taking cannabis for chronic pain. The study found that they cut opioid use by half after they began to use cannabis.
There is also the well-known JAMA study which showed that less people died of opioid overdoses in states with medical cannabis programs. If this were a mere coincidence, it would be a remarkable one!
Cannabis for chronic pain is safer than opioids. Opioids can kill, and cannabis can’t. Meds like oxycontin are highly addictive, and marijuana is not. Opioids do help people in pain, but cannabis seems to reduce their need for painkillers. All in all, the indicators show that legal cannabis could do much to address the opioid crisis in the US. That means that medical cannabis can ultimately save lives.