The Trump administration has made tackling America's opioid crisis a priority, However, they've refused to acknowledge that marijuana can be a safer alternative to opioids despite significant scientific evidence and data suggesting that it's true. But now one senator is stepping up and calling out the administration on the issue.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, wrote a letter to President Trump's nominee to run the Department of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, about the possibility of using marijuana as an alternative to opioids. Warren cited studies showing that states with medical marijuana experience less opioid abuse and another showing that prescription painkiller overdoses decreased in Colorado after cannabis legalization.
"Medical marijuana has the potential to mitigate the effects of the opioid crisis," Warren wrote. And she said the results of these studies are "consistent with other data from states that have developed laws for medical or recreational marijuana use."
Warren then asked Azar three questions in the letter:
1. As HHS Secretary, what would you do to further study this potential alternative to opioids?
2. Are you committed to implementing evidence-based policies regarding its use?
3. What steps will you take to improve our knowledge of the potential therapeutic benefits of marijuana when used for medical purposes?
An anti-opioid commission created by Trump recently put out a statement saying that marijuana is not a viable alternative, despite this scientific evidence and data. Azar's opinion on medical marijuana has not been made clear, but considering that the rest of Trump's administration seems to be strongly against it, there's a pretty good chance he is as well. He's also a former pharmaceutical executive, so his background would suggest that position as well.
Trump and Warren have often butted heads since his candidacy last year. The two frequently go at each other on social media, with Trump often referring to the senator as "Pocahontas" due to her claims of Native American ancestry. Many believe Warren will run for president in 2020, so the issue of opioids and marijuana could wind up being an election issue if that's the case.