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Is The Opiate Listening Session Deaf to Benefits of Medical Marijuana

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Today, President Trump named Chris Christie to lead a listening session panel on opiate addiction in the United States. Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey is vehemently opposed to medical marijuana; while seeking his party’s nomination for president in 2015 he stated that a Christie administration would enforce the Controlled Substances Act in states where medical marijuana has been legalized. Christie’s leadership of this panel means that the likelihood that medical marijuana will not gain any traction, despite its efficacy, in treating opiate addiction is high.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more people died from drug overdoses in 2014, than in any year on record. The majority of overdose deaths were due to an opiate. It cannot be denied that the United States is facing an opioid crisis of unparalleled proportions. There are plenty of viral videos, news stories, and images showing parents passing out due to heroin, with children nearby. Most Americans are aware that opioids are becoming more and more problematic. Due to the difficulty and expense in obtaining treatment, an individual seeking help usually has few options.

Medical marijuana has been shown to be useful in treating opiate addiction. Withdrawal symptoms are ferocious and can include body aches and pains, nausea, sleeplessness (or fatigue), headaches and mood swings. Medical marijuana can treat almost all of those symptoms, allowing the patient some relief during the withdrawal period. Unlike nearly all opiates, cannabis isn’t habit forming, which prevents the patient from getting hooked on a different medication. Furthermore, a study released in 2014 found that states that have created medical marijuana programs have lower annual opioid overdose deaths than states without medical marijuana programs. Medical marijuana is a simple and cost effective solution to the current crisis, but will probably be overlooked for other, more complicated options.

Today’s listening session was also attended by Secretary of Education Betsy Devos, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, and Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly. People affected by the opioid crisis also attended, including individuals who have lost family members or personally struggled with addiction.

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