Since President Donald Trump created an anti-opioid commission in May, the task force has danced around the subject of using medical marijuana as an alternative for dangerous prescription painkillers. But yesterday the commission finally decided to speak out on the subject, and the answer is exactly what you expect.
Chris Christie, the Chairman of the White House’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, wrote a letter to the president yesterday that asked for Trump to reject any possibility that medical marijuana could be used as an alternative for painkillers.
“The Commission acknowledges that there is an active movement to promote the use of marijuana as an alternative medication for chronic pain and as a treatment for opioid addiction," Christie wrote. "There is a lack of sophisticated outcome data on dose, potency, and abuse potential for marijuana. This mirrors the lack of data in the 1990’s and early 2000’s when opioid prescribing multiplied across health care settings and led to the current epidemic of abuse, misuse and addiction. The Commission urges that the same mistake is not made with the uninformed rush to put another drug legally on the market in the midst of an overdose epidemic.”
The thing Christie doesn't mention in his letter to the president are recent studies showing that legalized marijuana led to a decrease in both opioid abuse and overdoses. And there are also studies showing that states with medical marijuana have lower rates of opioid abuse as well. So Christie and the commission are just blatantly ignoring data and statistics that prove cannabis can be used as an alternative to opioids because there's "abuse potential" for marijuana, a drug that's been around for centuries.
Also, by rejecting marijuana as an alternative, it begs the question about what the heck Trump's commission is actually going to do about opioids. Increased education? More funding for treatments? All these initiatives have failed. And now they're closing the door on one of the few solutions to the opioid crisis that the federal government has not tried.
So don't be surprised in four years if we're still wondering how the heck to solve the opioid crisis.