Could marijuana help solve the opioid crisis? | The Tylt

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Could marijuana help solve the opioid crisis?
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Researchers say there are several ways medical marijuana could combat the opioid crisis. Giving people with chronic pain medical marijuana instead of dangerously addictive prescription drugs could prevent many people from becoming addicted to opioids in the first place. 

Cannabis could also help current addicts. States where marijuana is still banned have higher rates of addiction and overdose, and in 2014, researchers found that states with any kind of medical marijuana law had a 25 percent lower rate of death from opioid overdoses than other states. Several treatment centers are even using marijuana to help people transition off more dangerous drugs, the way methadone is used to transition heroin users.

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But treating addiction with cannabis is very controversial in recovery circles, because established addiction treatment programs like Alcoholics Anonymous oppose the use of any intoxicants in sobriety. Researchers also caution there have not been enough studies to firmly establish whether or not cannabis helps addicts successfully and safely.

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But marijuana research in the U.S. has been hampered by the federal government’s classification of the drug as a Schedule I substance, on par with LSD and heroin. Advocates say the real reason there aren't studies showing definitive evidence that cannabis can help people recover from opioid addiction is because we're really not allowed to study it. With deaths from synthetic opioids up 73 percent in just the last year, many say it's time for the addiction community to adjust its stance on pot.

The politicization of medical cannabis and decades of misinformation about the drug contribute to hardened and inaccurate stereotypes about how medical marijuana can be used.
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Advocates point to the stark difference in the death rate between opioid users and pot smokers as a pretty good "study." 

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But others say marijuana is just not a solution–it's still a gateway drug.

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