When The FDA Approves OxyContin For Children, It's High Time To Legalize Medical Marijuana

The Food and Drug Administration just approved heroin-like OxyContin for children as young as 11-years-old, while advocates for medical marijuana are still fighting night and day for the right to give cannabis oil to suffering kids without ending up in prison. Inquisitr reported Friday about the FDA's approval of OxyContin for kids in detail, but the issue also begs the question, "Isn't it high time to legalize medical marijuana?"

It does make sense why the FDA wanted to give children access to pain relief. In the absence of a safer alternative to OxyContin, how else will our children suffering from severe pain find relief? It's just too bad the FDA wasn't in a position to legalize a so-called "gateway drug" for children before legalizing the drug on the other side of the supposed gate.

It's not the FDA's job to regulate marijuana at this point. That's a different federal agency. In 2014, the DEA's Domestic Cannabis Eradication / Suppression Program "was responsible for the eradication of 3,904,213 cultivated outdoor cannabis plants and 396,620 indoor plants for a total of 4,300,833 marijuana plants," and that same agency is entirely aggravated that marijuana cultivators are growing "outdoor cannabis" in states where recreational and medical marijuana use is legal.

That's an awful lot of federal resources directed at eradicating a plant that could be offering Americans serious pain relief without the deadly consequences.

"We are always concerned about the safety of our children, particularly when they are ill and require medications and when they are in pain," Dr. Sharon Hertz, the FDA's director of new anesthesia, analgesia and addiction products, said, according to NBC. "OxyContin is not intended to be the first opioid drug used in pediatric patients, but the data show that changing from another opioid drug to OxyContin is safe if done properly."

The FDA approved OxyContin with the understanding that the new extended-release formulation makes it less risky than earlier formulations of the opioid drug. Keep in mind, the CBC reported only last week that a study in Ontario discovered that OxyContin and other opioid drugs were tied to one in eight deaths in young adults, because the medications are that addictive and that dangerous. Studies waiver back and forth over whether cannabis is addictive, but there is zero doubt in anyone's mind: OxyContin is extremely addictive and highly deadly.

According to the CDC, at least 44 people in the U.S. die of prescription pain medication overdoses every single day. Many people opposing removing marijuana from the DEA's naughty list warn that if we legalize marijuana, we're only asking for greater harm. They cite more emergency room visits linked to marijuana use in states that have legalized cannabis, but what they can't cite is an influx of deaths linked to marijuana. Just days ago, a report indicated that legalizing marijuana actually does come with an enormous impact on Americans, but it probably wasn't the impact the DEA was expecting. Actually, the original data was published in a 2014 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine, but it did find that "Medical cannabis laws are associated with significantly lower state-level opioid overdose mortality rates." Perhaps more important to the discussion of legalizing OxyContin for children, it stated, "Approximately 60% of all opioid analgesic overdoses occur among patients who have legitimate prescriptions from a single provider." So, more than two dozen Americans die every day from legitimate, FDA approved prescribed opioid pain relievers.

Let this sink in: In the 13 states where medical marijuana is legal, between 1999 and 2010, "25% fewer people die from opioid overdoses annually."

A commentary about the 2014 data, also published in JAMA, succinctly described what this Inquisitr author feels are irresponsible decisions on the part of the separate federal agencies dictating how Americans are allowed to control their pain.

"The striking implication is that medical marijuana laws, when implemented, may represent a promising approach for stemming runaway rates of nonintentional opioid analgesic-related deaths. If true, this finding upsets the applecart of conventional wisdom regarding the public health implications of marijuana legalization and medicinal usefulness."
Instead of working together to save lives and treat pain, the separate federal agencies delve deeper and deeper into a chasm of deadly public policy.

A year after learning that federal medical marijuana legalization could save almost a dozen American lives daily, the FDA expands the population of legal OxyContin users. Meanwhile, our federal lawmakers still insist on ensuring that using marijuana for any reason, including versions of cannabis oil that do not even make people high, is considered a federal crime. To this day, the White House persists in declaring that federal marijuana policy actually promotes drug-free kids.

"Confusing messages being presented by popular culture, media, proponents of 'medical' marijuana, and political campaigns to legalize all marijuana use perpetuate the false notion that marijuana is harmless. This significantly diminishes efforts tkeep our young people drug free and hampers the struggle of those recovering from addiction."
The White House administration is clearly more distressed by a potential and debatable eight point drop in the IQ in later life among adolescence after long term marijuana-use than guaranteed deaths from prescription opioid drugs. The administration cites a look at a birth cohort of around a thousand people born in 1972 and 1973 which showed that a couple hundred of the participants used marijuana regularly, and some of them who used it extremely regularly for a long time saw a decline in IQ of up to eight points. While marijuana may very well cause cognitive declines when used by teens long term, does it even begin to compare to the risks of giving children OxyContin?

The applecart hasn't just been "upset," its last wheel just collapsed, and it is high time time for our federal lawmakers to downgrade marijuana on the Controlled Substances Act and get cannabis available for prescription pads across the nation for any suffering American of any age.

[Photo via Pixabay]