Is Marijuana the Way to Fix the Opioid Crisis?

Playing Would More Medical Marijuana Lead to Less Opioid Use?

The opioid addiction crisis has been declared a national public health emergency. The Doctors discuss the findings of a recent study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association that found the rate of prescription opioid use in states with greater access to medical marijuana to treat chronic and acute pain were less likely to get prescription opioids. States with medical marijuana laws had a 14% reduction in opioid prescriptions; that’s 3.7 million fewer does every day.

Could marijuana be the solution to the opioid crisis? The Doctors invite on neuroscientist and medical cannabis expert Dr. Adie Wilson-Poe who agrees with the findings of this study as well as addiction interventionist Ken Seeley who has an opposing view.

Watch: United States of Addiction: Opioid Epidemic Ground Zero

Dr. Poe says she is excited by all the evidence of the last few years that demonstrate that opioid prescriptions and use are decreased with states that have medical and recreational cannabis laws. “When people have access to cannabis they automatically cease their opioid use by half. There are 100 million people living in this country living with chronic pain and they need something to improve life,” says Dr. Poe and she points out that evidence shows opioids are not effective for chronic pain, but cannabis is.

Ken, however, totally disagrees. “So many people out there dying and it’s not an opioid crisis, it’s an addiction crisis.” Ken believes people are numbing internal issues with opioids and using marijuana is just feeding another addiction.

Watch: Treating Drug Addiction with Marijuana?

OB/GYN Dr. Nita Landry points out that marijuana has both THC and CBD. She asks Ken if he is okay with the non-psychoactive CBD? Ken says he is, as long as the FDA gets involved to approve it as medication.

Dr. Nita asks Dr. Wilson-Poe how she would feel about eliminating the THC component and just keeping the rest. Dr. Wilson-Poe points out that she is in favor of both because THC has incredible pain-relieving properties. She says that the vast majority of people also suffers from mood disorders, so she says this is “killing two birds with one stone.”