December headlines about marijuana legalization keep gaining positive ground, and Kentucky is throwing its hat into the ring to legalize marijuana for recreational and medical use.
Moreover, on social media and in the comments section of many of these marijuana legalization articles, citizens of Kentucky are talking about how marijuana legalization can reduce opiate, heroin, and painkiller-related deaths in the Bluegrass State.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Kentucky Senator Perry Clark has filed the necessary paperwork for voting in marijuana legalization in that state. On January 5, the bill, called the Cannabis Freedom Act, will begin the process of being evaluated before it is referred for voting.
In the meantime, Senator Perry Clark has told the media that the marijuana legalization issue should be debated in front of the public because of comments by other senators in Kentucky that call marijuana a “gateway drug.” According to the Courier-Journal, Senator Perry Clark stated the following.
“The time of laughing and snickering about marijuana and marijuana cigarettes is over. We’ve got serious businessmen who have approached me on this now and say they are taking it to the governor.”
Interestingly, one of the topics mentioned in Kentucky marijuana legalization debate among citizens is whether or not legalizing marijuana will be a way to address the medical treatment of addiction to drugs like heroin, opioids, and painkillers in the Bluegrass State.
For example, on Twitter, a user writes the following in response to the Cannabis Freedom Act proposal: “C’mon y’all. A huge # of Appalachians are illiterate, a huge # are opiate addicts. We need ‘the healing plant’ most.”
The Week explains the problem that opiate/opioid drugs like OxyContin create — and many studies insist that this medication in particular is the real “gateway drug” to addiction to other painkillers, heroin, and opioids.
In fact, The Week specifically cites Kentucky as an example of a state suffering from the opioid/OxyContin epidemic and state the following on March 4.
“After more than seven years of battling the evasive legal tactics of Purdue Pharma, 2015 may be the year that Kentucky and its attorney general, Jack Conway, are able to move forward with a civil lawsuit alleging that the drug maker misled doctors and patients about their blockbuster pain pill OxyContin, leading to a vicious addiction epidemic across large swaths of the state.”
The most recent update on the $1 billion dollar lawsuit against the makers of OxyContin by the state of Kentucky appeared on December 7. According to Drug Watch, the lawsuit still does not have an outcome.
In the meantime, will the people of Kentucky find marijuana legalization as a way to ameliorate the situation with severe opioid addiction in the Bluegrass State without their $1 billion in lawsuit money?
News Week lends support to the idea that marijuana legalization and a drop in painkiller deaths are linked. In their 2014 article, News Week implies that states that had medical marijuana freedoms experienced a decline of opiate deaths by 25-percent.
Adding to this, the Marijuana Policy Project highlights that, in 2013, the National Institute for Health published an article that stated marijuana was an effective treatment for addiction to opioids.
But is marijuana legalization effective for treating opioid addiction outside of the laboratory? Drug Free published an article on October 7 stating the following about the success the Massachusetts Canna Care Clinic in Boston has had with this type of program.
“[The clinic] treated about 80 patients who were addicted to opioids, anti-anxiety medication or muscle relaxers with cannabis through a one-month tapering program. More than three-quarters of patients stopped taking the harder drugs.”
In contrast, the National Institute on Drug Addiction states that the relapse rate for those that seek treatment for issues like heroin addiction is between 40 to 60 percent.
Sadly, it seems that Kentucky may pass the buck on exploring legalized marijuana as an effective treatment for opioid addiction — and they may not be the only state overlooking the obvious.
For instance, on December 15, WMUR reported that New Jersey is a state that has a self-proclaimed heroin epidemic (and medical marijuana laws), and they will be getting new funding to fight the “opioid epidemic.” However, what they do not mention is that marijuana legalization has been cited as an effective treatment to decreasing opioid/heroin/painkiller deaths.
Is Kentucky Senator Perry Clark addressing the marijuana/heroin cure? If Kentucky does go through with the marijuana legalization bill, it appears that it will be handled by the law with the same parameters as alcohol — but substance abuse treatment program exploration is also a possibility in the language of the Cannabis Freedom Act.
According to the State-Journal, Senator Perry Clark’s Cannabis Freedom Act may be leaning toward the marijuana/opioid cure connection with the following.
“Revenues [from the Cannabis Freedom Act] would also help fund evidence-based substance abuse treatment programs…”
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