Medical marijuana is a growing industry, and many people are still grappling with what that means, especially within the medical field. A recent poll has emerged with conflicting results: Most people think cannabis is a safer alternative to opioids, but don’t think it’s appropriate for pregnant women or children to use.
Opioids are substances most often prescribed for pain relief (though heroin also belongs to this category), as they produce soothing or numbing effects. Some opiates include morphine, as well as other synthetic drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, with brand names like OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin, to name a few. They are becoming a topic of household conversation as their prominent–and damaging–side effect of addiction is a more relevant topic for Americans.
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, “Of the 20.5 million Americans 12 or older that had a substance use disorder in 2015, 2 million had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain relievers.” This type of addiction has severe consequences. In fact, the same study states that “drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US, with 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015,” with opioid addiction being the primary statistic, with over 20,000 deaths connected to prescription pain relievers.
At this time, cannabis is not a prescribed pain reliever; however, many states with medical marijuana require a written doctor’s note in order to gain access to it. There’s a connection between medical use and marijuana, the country just isn’t quite there yet, in terms of implementation.
Prescription medication is openly accepted as relief for a wide array of ailments. Cannabis products are starting to gain traffic as well, as more and more people are realizing that marijuana is not limited to getting high and overeating. Cannabinoids–especially CBD topical and infusions–are gaining traction in legalized areas. The problem: they’re not FDA-approved, which the stamp of certification that prescription meds come with. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that marijuana is not an approved medicine because there hasn’t been enough large-scale research (via clinical trials) that show the benefits of the plant outweigh the potential risks.
Opioids–despite how addictive and dangerous they are–are prescribed by medical professionals and are FDA-approved; marijuana is not. The Seattle Times reported that 83 percent of those who completed the Yahoo poll said that cannabis should be legal nationwide for medical treatment.
However, 70 percent also said that it would be unacceptable for pregnant women to intake cannabis to reduce pain or nausea, and there were mixed results regarding children’s use.
Most states have not welcomed marijuana into their culture. There are currently 19 medical-only states, and 6 states with recreational use legalized (and one district). The remaining states have maintained their prohibition legislation, and continue to offer pharmaceuticals as the primary source of pain relief for medical patients.
In states like Washington, where the Seattle Pi stated that residents have increased their marijuana usage, cannabis culture is growing and expanding–many people are able to seek out relief without jumping through the hoops of accessing a doctor’s recommendation. A survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that about 18 percent of people living in Seattle use marijuana, up 3 percent since the state’s legalization.
While the United States faces an increasing opioid addiction crisis, marijuana remains a valid option for legalized states. Though the synthetic uses of pharmaceuticals are standard, cannabis is a growing commodity for those looking for natural, non-addictive relief.