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STEVE ELLIOTT

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Opioid related deaths fell by more than 6 percent in Colorado in the two years since recreational cannabis sales began, according to new research. The findings suggest that cannabis could be a valuable weapon in fighting the effects of America’s opioid epidemic, under which drug overdose deaths have tripled since 2000.

The study published in November’s issue of the American Journal of Public Health, found that the 6.5-percent reduction in opioid deaths represents “a reversal of” a 14-year trend of increasing opioid deaths in Colorado since 2000, reports Blair Miller at 3 News Now

The use of cannabis as an alternative to opioid painkillers — or as an “exit drug” for addicts — has received increasing attention in the past year. Meanwhile, the backwards-facing Trump Administration, particularly Attorney General Jeff Sessions, continues to fight the increasingly obvious fact that marijuana is helpful as an alternative medicine.

“Legalization of cannabis in Colorado was associated with short-term reductions in opioid-related deaths. As additional data become available, research should replicate these analyses in other states with legal recreational cannabis.” ~ AJPH paper

New Results Reinforce Earlier Studies

Several studies have shown that medical marijuana has been beneficial to opioid users. Last year, a study by researchers at the University of Michigan found chronic pain patients who used cannabis used 64 percent fewer opioids.

Another study, this one in the Journal of the American Medical Associationfound the annual overdose fatalities involving opioids were about 25 percent lower in states with medical marijuana programs.

“Because chronic pain is a major indication for medical cannabis, laws that establish access to medical cannabis may change overdose mortality related to opioid analgesics in states that have enacted them.” ~ 2014 JAMA study

New Study Looked Opioids And Marijuana In Colorado

The new study, published in November’s AJPH by researchers from the University of North Texas, University of Florida and Emory University, looked solely at Colorado’s recreational cannabis program and its correlation with opioid-related deaths.

Researchers worked to strengthen their model by comparing Nevada and Colorado. Nevada legalized medicinal cannabis shortly after Colorado did, but voters didn’t legalize recreational marijuana until 2017, after the study had been completed.

For the new study, researchers used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and elsewhere to construct a chart of opioid-related deaths in each month, beginning in 2000. They then model-smoothed the average and compared the number of deaths at the end of 2013 to the number afterward, through 2015.

Reduction In Deaths ‘Statistically Significant’

The analysis showed “a statistically significant reduction” in the trend of opioid-related deaths after recreational marijuana legalization. The reduction amounted to 0.7 deaths per month, and “resulted in an estimated 6.5 percent reduction in opioid-related deaths.”

According to the researchers, that finding “extends” prior research “on the potential protective effect of medical cannabis legalization on opioid-related deaths.”

They noted that more research would be needed in the future.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions:
“I’ve heard people say we could solve our heroin problem with marijuana. How stupid is that?”
[Brynn Anderson / AP]

Trump Administration: Using Cannabis To Treat Opioid Addiction Is ‘Stupid’

The research comes after new attacks this year from the Trump Administration and Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions.

Sessions has claimed that the idea that cannabis could be used to treat heroin and opioid addiction is “stupid” and “hyped.”

“I’ve heard people say we could solve our heroin problem with marijuana. How stupid is that? Give me a break.” ~ Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions

Meanwhile, prescription drug overdoses last year alone killed more Americans than did the decade-long Vietnam War.

Michael Bennet US Senator opioids cannabis
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U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado):
“Federal resources should be targeted at providing comprehensive substance use disorder programs and cutting off the flow of deadly drugs rather than interfering with state regulatory regimes for marijuana”
[Colorado Politics]

‘Open Hostility To State Policies’

U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) has openly questioned the Trump Administration’s “open hostility to state policies” on legal cannabis.

In May, Bennet and a group of other Senators sent the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration an open letter suggesting they target deadly drugs — like opioids — rather than cannabis. Marijuana has never caused a single verifiable fatal overdose in history.

“Particularly given the severity of the ongoing opioid use epidemic, federal resources should be targeted at providing comprehensive substance use disorder programs and cutting off the flow of deadly drugs rather than interfering with state regulatory regimes for marijuana.” ~ Letter from Senators to DOJ and DEA

National Opioid Emergency

Trump is reportedly planning to declare the opioid crisis a “national emergency,” reports Lev Fatcher at Stat.

The administration, however, seems powerless to actually do anything about the crisis as it does about everything else. A chief reason, in this instance, is that Trump and his minions can’t seem to muster the cojones to state the obvious — that cannabis could help.

Intense lobbying and campaign contributions from Big Pharma resulted in powerful, addictive opiates — many of them actually stronger than street heroin — showing up in medicine cabinets nationwide, reports Josh Robbins at the International Business Times

Congress Seems To Work For Big Pharma

Congress, as usual, is completely in the thrall of their corporate masters in the pharmaceutical industry.

Just this past April, Congress stripped the DEA of its power to shut down suspicious sales of opioid pain pills. Many of these pills are suspected of going to corrupt “Dr. Feelgood” physicians, and making their way onto the flourishing black market.

Unethical doctors working with pill mills and shady “pain clinics” write prescriptions which allow drug dealers to purchase hundreds of thousands of pain pills, reports Errol Louis at the New York Daily News. These get sold to people who end up in the grip of addiction.

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Stupidity isn’t a valid political position.
[PoliticusUSA]

Trump Doubles Down On A Failed Policy

Meanwhile the long-failed War On Drugs continues with Trump’s plans to double down on enforcement and sentencing being enthusiastically embraced by Atty Gen. Sessions.

With new research reinforcing already existing findings — that legal cannabis may well alleviate some of the devastation caused in a large part by the legal distribution opioids — one has to wonder at what point a corrupt federal government takes notice of the death toll.

Meanwhile, truly deadly, addictive drugs are still pouring over drugstore counters in America. The USA remains in the grip of an opioid crisis, thanks to the pharmaceutical industry’s unholy money-grip on DC.

 

 

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