Medical Marijuana as a Solution to the Opioid Crisis?

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“The Opioid Epidemic” is a major national problem here in the United States. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimate 130+ PER DAY die from opioid-related drug overdoses. I personally know numerous people who have been touched by the opioid crisis in some way. There are many diseases now, such as cancer, where opioids are prescribed as part of the treatment plan. According to the HHS, in the late 1990s, it seems the pharmaceutical companies advised the medical community that patients would not become addicted to prescription opioid pain relievers. The data since that time has shown that claim was false and that opioids are in fact highly addictive. Here are some numbers from The Department of Health and Human Services –

HHS Opioid addiction chart.PNG

To combat this problem, state governments are now turning to medical marijuana as an alternative form of treatment for patients. The governor of Illinois, Gov. Bruce Rauner, recently signed into law a provision that allows medical marijuana to be an opioid pain killer replacement. Further, the new law eases the application process for those who apply.

“We’ve got to do everything we can to stop this vicious epidemic,” the governor said as he signed the bill into law on Chicago’s West Side on Tuesday. (8/28/18)“… We are creating an alternative to opioid addiction. … It’s clear that medical marijuana treats pain effectively, and is less addictive and disruptive than opioids.” – Gov. Bruce Rauner, Illinois

Further, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed similar legislation on 9/24/18 adding “acute pain management to the list of conditions for which medical marijuana can be recommended as an alternative to opioid use.”

These acts potentially open a large market for medical marijuana use given the number of diseases opioids are currently used to treat. I mean how broad is “pain management”? If more states begin to follow this precedent, I feel this opens the door for more investment opportunities in the space.


Research, NewsCharles Freeman