opioids

Utah: Prominent Businessman Supports Medical Cannabis Initiative

Utah Capitol

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Medicinal cannabis advocates in Utah have a major name stepping in to defend the right to use the plant, Utah businessman Jon Huntsman Sr.

"I'm a very strong advocate for medical marijuana," Huntsman Sr. said.

Huntsman, a four-time cancer survivor, said his support comes from compassion. Huntsman has suffered from Polymyalgia Rheumatica, a disorder that can cause severe shoulder and hip-joint pain, for the past 10 years.

"I won't take the opioids, I'll take the pain," Huntsman says.

The possibility of kidney or bladder failure and constipation turned Huntsman away from opioids entirely.

Survey: 87 Percent of NFL Players Support Medical Cannabis Use

NFL Cannabis

The majority of NFL players use opiate-based painkillers, and most would rather try medical cannabis for pain relief, according to survey

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

A recent survey sent to current and former National Football League (NFL) players shows 87 percent of players think the league should change its stance on cannabis and allow players to utilize the herb for medical purposes.

The 38-page survey, which includes answers from 152 respondents, reveals 89 percent of players think medical cannabis could be used to effectively treat pain if the league allowed it. Approximately 45 percent of players surveyed said they felt pressured into using chemical painkillers by team doctors, staff, and teammates.

North America: Individuals Using Cannabis To End Drug, Alcohol Addiction

Cannabis - Booze - Pills

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 21.5 million Americans struggled with a substance abuse disorder in 2014. Nearly 80 percent of those individuals specifically battled alcohol use disorder. Interestingly, cannabis may be a way to help those who are struggling.

Georgia: Study Shows Medical Marijuana Legalization Leads To Lower Medicaid Costs

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Patients use fewer prescription drugs in states where medical marijuana is legal, according to data published in the journal Health Affairs.

Investigators at the University of Georgia assessed the association between medical marijuana regulations and the average number of prescriptions filled by Medicaid beneficiaries between the years 2007 and 2014.

Researchers reported, "[T]he use of prescription drugs in fee-for-service Medicaid was lower in states with medical marijuana laws than in states without such laws in five of the nine broad clinical areas we studied." They added, "If all states had had a medical marijuana law in 2014, we estimated that total savings for fee-for-service Medicaid could have been $1.01 billion."

The team previously published a report in 2016 that medical cannabis access was associated with significantly reduced spending by patients on Medicare Part D approved prescription drugs.

Other studies have reported that patients with legal access to medical marijuana reduce their intake of opioids, benzodiazepines, anti-depressants, migraine-related medications, and sleep aids, among other substances.

U.S.: Study Finds Marijuana Could Help Curb The Opioid Epidemic

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A new study shows that U.S. hospitals have not seen an influx of cannabis consumers in states that have legalized medical marijuana as was predicted, but instead have treated far fewer opioid users.

The number of patients admitted for opioid painkiller dependence and abuse decreased on average by 23 percent after states legalized marijuana for medical purposes. The study also showed that hospitalization rates for opioid overdoses dropped 13 percent on average.

The report in Drug and Alcohol Dependence showed that fears that legalizing medical marijuana would lead to an increase in marijuana-related turned out to be unfounded.

"Instead, medical marijuana laws may have reduced hospitalizations related to opioid pain relievers," said study author Yuyan Shi, a public health professor at the University of California, San Diego. "This study and a few others provided some evidence regarding the potential positive benefits of legalizing marijuana to reduce opioid use and abuse, but they are still preliminary."

An estimated 60 percent of Americans now live in the 28 states and Washington, D.C. where medical marijuana is now legal under state law.

The opioid epidemic kills 91 Americans per day; sales of prescription painkillers such as Oxycontin and Vicodin have quadrupled since 1999.

California: Medical Marijuana Legalization Associated With Fewer Hospitalizations From Opioids

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

According to data published online ahead of print in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, states that have legalized medical marijuana have seen a reduction in the number of opioid-related hospitalizations.

A researcher from the University of California at San Diego, assessing the association between medical marijuana laws and hospitalizations related to opioid use, reported both immediate and long-term reductions in opioid-related hospitalization following changes in law.

"This study demonstrated significant reductions on OPR- (opioid pain reliever) related hospitalizations associated with the implementation of medical marijuana policies. ... We found reductions in OPR-related hospitalizations immediately after the year of policy implementation as well as delayed reductions in the third post-policy year."

The author also dismissed the argument that liberalized marijuana were associated with an increase in marijuana-related hospitalizations, saying "While the interpretation of the results should remain cautious, this study suggested that medical marijuana policies were not associated with marijuana-related hospitalizations. Instead, the policies were unintendedly associated with substantial reductions in OPR related hospitalizations."

Illinois: Democrats Demand Trump Clarify Stance On Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

An Illinois state Democrat is asking the Trump administration for greater clarity on whether they will be opponents to state laws legalizing marijuana.

Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerich sent a letter to President Donald Trump Monday criticizing the administration for teasing a crackdown on states with legal marijuana but giving no follow-up details on their plans. The Chicago Tribune reports that the legal future for medical patients and businesses involved in the marijuana industry is uncertain due to the absence of an official position on both recreational and medical marijuana.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said during a press conference on February 23 that the Department of Justice is likely going to increase enforcement efforts of federal law.

“If the Trump administration seeks greater enforcement, then it should clearly define what this means so hard-working people in Illinois can make informed decisions,” Frerich said in the letter. “Vague statements undermining medical marijuana violate commonsense and only serve to hurt the people who have pursed this treatment as a last resort.”

Washington, DC: Attorney General Jeff Sessions Warns Of An America With 'Marijuana Sold At Every Corner Grocery Store'

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Attorney General Jeff Sessions warned Tuesday that easing access to marijuana could lead to local markets selling the drug.

Speaking to a group of attorneys at the National Association of Attorneys General Winter Meeting, he said, “States can pass whatever laws they choose. But I’m not sure we’re going to be a better, healthier nation if we have marijuana being sold at every corner grocery store.”

Sessions went on to criticize a column published by Sam Kamin in the Washington Post Tuesday. Kamin, a professor of marijuana law and policy at the University of Denver, argues in the column that the opioid crisis is “a reason to expand access to marijuana rather than to contract it.” A study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in 2016 found “adverse consequences of opioid use” gradually decreased in states where marijuana had been legalized as individuals switched from opioids to marijuana for pain relief.

“Give me a break,” Sessions said. “This is the kind of argument that has been out there. [It’s] almost a desperate attempt to defend the harmlessness of marijuana or even benefits. I doubt that’s true. Maybe science will prove me wrong. ... My best view is that we don’t need to be legalizing marijuana.”

Washington, DC: Spicer Says Expect To See 'Greater Enforcement' On Recreational Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Thursday that states should expect to see greater federal enforcement of laws against the use of marijuana for recreational purposes.

While taking questions from reporters at the daily briefing, Spicer was asked if the government would take action on recreational marijuana use. Spicer replied: "Well I think that's a question for the Department of Justice. I do believe you'll see greater enforcement of it. Because again there's a big difference between the medical use ... that's very different than the recreational use, which is something the Department of Justice will be further looking into."

President Donald Trump “understands the pain and suffering that many people go through who are facing especially terminal diseases, and the comfort that some of these drugs, including medical marijuana, can bring to them,” he said, also noting previous action by Congress not to fund the Justice Department “go[ing] after those folks.”

As for “recreational marijuana, that’s a very, very different subject,” Spicer said.

Ignoring recent studies which suggest marijuana can help ease the opioid addiction crisis affecting some areas, Spicer went on to actually connect marijuana to the opioid crisis.

Wisconsin: Governor Walker Still Thinks Marijuana Is A Gateway Drug

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker told reporters Thursday that he would support a CBD oil bill, but he is opposed to any measure that would bring marijuana into his state. He still thinks marijuana is a gateway drug.

Walker was promoting his new budget package in a visit to Western Technical College in La Crosse when he went as far as to link marijuana use with harder drugs.

“I do not, however, support measures that would open the door with legalized use of marijuana in state,” Walker said, “because law enforcement, increasingly, from one end of the state to another, from democrats as well as republican sheriffs, have told me, ‘Do not legalize marijuana, it is a gateway drug to other drugs.'”

Clinton Gallagher wrote a letter to the editor of The Cap Times, a local media outlet for Madison, Wisconsin, upset with the Governor resurrecting the 'gateway theory', which has been debunked.

“We must stop allowing hypocritical vote-seeking politicians to refer to marijuana as the gateway drug when everybody that was once a teenager knows it’s alcoholic beverages that cause death and destruction, insidiously sanctioned by all who oppose legalization of marijuana,” he wrote.

U.S.: College Students Are Using More Marijuana, Fewer Opioids

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

According to new data released Thursday, high school students and young adults today are much less likely to use illicit drugs than their parents, except for marijuana.

The report comes after a four-decade long study of drug, tobacco, and alcohol use from the University of Michigan. The report shows that people in their 40s and 50s used far more drugs in their youth than people in their teens and 20s today.

"The proportion of Americans in their 40s and 50s who have experience with illicit drugs is quite shocking," says Lloyd Johnston, a research scientist at the University of Michigan and the lead investigator on the study. "It's a great majority."

Over 70 percent of people in their fifties have used illegal drugs, not counting marijuana. If marijuana is included that figure rises to about 85 percent.

Cigarette use is at an all-time low as well, with 20.5 percent of college students saying they smoked in 2015 compared to 44.5 percent in 1999.

"Maybe the most important of all is the decline in narcotic drugs like Vicodin and OxyContin and so forth," Johnston says. Use of prescription opioids by college students has dropped from 8.7 percent in 2003 to 3.3 percent in 2015. "That's despite the fact that we know from the news that the use and misuse of narcotic drugs is a growing problem in the country," Johnston says.

U.S.: DEA Ignores Science, Refuses To Reshedule Marijuana

The DEA announced there will be no rescheduling of marijuana; it's still Schedule I.

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp news

The Drug Enforcement Administration's much-anticipated decision on rescheduling marijuana came a bit early, late on Wednesday instead of Thursday as promised. Perhaps they were eager to reveal their plan -- to change nothing.

In spite of the fact that half of our 50 states in the U.S now recognize medical marijuana as a useful, beneficial substance for multitudes of people, the DEA will not reschedule the plant.

Contrary to the clear wishes of a majority of American citizens, as many recent polls have shown, the DEA will not reschedule this plant.

In total disregard of the recommendations and advice of scientists, doctors, and researchers, the DEA is not rescheduling marijuana.

It remains a Schedule I drug in the eyes of the federal government, a drug with no medical benefits and a high potential for abuse. Other Schedule I drugs include heroin and LSD. Cocaine, methamphetamines, and opioids are classified Schedule II because they have some accepted use in medication.

"This decision isn't based on danger," DEA chief Chuck Rosenberg told NPR. "This decision is based on whether marijuana, as determined by the FDA, is a safe and effective medicine, and it's not."

Clearly it's a decision not based on science or the wishes of the American public.

U.S.: Baltimore Ravens Tackle Monroe Urges NFL To End Marijuana Ban, Reduce Opioid Use

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The National Football League should reduce the use of opioids and allow injured players to use medical marijuana, Baltimore Ravens tackle Eugene Monroe wrote in an essay published in The Players' Tribune on Monday.

"The NFL relies heavily on opioids to get players back on the field as soon as possible, but studies have shown medical marijuana to be a much better solution," Monroe wrote in an essay titled "Getting off the T Train," reports Pat McManamon at ESPN.

"[Medical marijuana] is safer, less addictive and can even reduce opioid dependence," Monroe wrote.

Both the NFL and the NFL Players Association officially ban any use of cannabis. Monroe said it's time for that policy to come to an end. He called for the league and union to:

• Remove marijuana from the banned substance list;
• Fund cannabis research, especially as it relates to the brain disease CTE; and
• Stop "overprescribing addictive and harmful opioids."

"I'm not asking the NFL to prescribe players cannabis," Monroe wrote. "I'm calling on the league to remove its testing protocols for cannabis. It just makes sense."

Massachusetts: Attorney General Asks Voters To 'Wait' On Legalizing Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is asking state voters to "wait" to legalize marijuana.

Voters could be faced with a ballot question in November to legalize cannabis for recreational adult use. Atty. Gen. Healey is asking residents to vote no, reports Ashley Afonso at WWLP.

"Not now, not at this time," Healey said. "We're in the midst of his opioid crisis." (Evidently, the Attorney General doesn't know that cannabis is an exit drug out of opiate addiction.)

"I think it's really important that we talk about the public health aspects which haven't really been talked about," Healey said. "Legalizing recreational marijuana I think is a really bad idea for many reasons, but to me most important is the health and well-being of young people."

Massachusetts already has legalized medicinal cannabis, and has decriminalized the possession of less than an ounce for adults. The new measure would legalize recreational weed for adults 21 and older. It would also add taxes on cannabis sales and a commission that would oversee the regulation of the industry.

The Massachusetts Hospital Association wrong-headedly opposes legalization, claiming "safety concerns" including "greater youth accessibility." What they don't seem to realize is that black market dealers don't ask for ID, and legal marijuana stores do.

U.S.: Sen. Elizabeth Warren Urges Investigating Marijuana As Alternative To Pain Pills

ElizabethWarren[ElizabethWarrenWiki]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) this week asked the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to research how marijuana might help curb the opioid epidemic in America.

The U.S. is the largest consumer of prescription painkillers in the world, according to the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Even though Americans are just 5 percent of the global population, they gobble 75 percent of the planet's opioid medications.

Warren asked the CDC to conduct studies about alternatives to pain relief drugs, such as marijuana, reports Jackie Salo at International Business Times

In a letter sent Monday to CDC head Dr. Thomas Friedan, Warren urged the agency to finalize its guidance to doctors on prescribing oxycodone, fentanyl, and other pharmaceutical opioid painkillers, reports Alan Pyke at Think Progress.

In the letter, Warren mentioned the struggle her constituents in Massachusetts have faced with painkiller abuse. She said there were almost 1,100 confirmed cases of opioid overdose deaths in Massachusetts in 2014, which was a 65 percent increase from 2012.

Maine: Considering Legislation Increasing Drug Penalties, Escalating Drug War

EndTheDrugWarNow[TheFreeThoughtProject]

Advocates Say Increasing Penalties Will Frighten People Away from Seeking Treatment, Increase Incarceration, and Exacerbate Racial Disparities and the “New Jim Crow”

The Maine Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on Wednesday held a hearing on legislation backed by the Attorney General that could roll back groundbreaking reforms passed last session that reduced drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor.

The proposed legislation (LD 1554) would make possession of 30 milligrams (often less than one single pill) or more of prescription opioids and any amount of certain other drugs into felony offenses, continuing the criminalization of drug users and wasting scarce resources on incarceration instead of treatment and prevention.

Under this proposed bill, users not engaged in any other type of illegal conduct would face mandatory felony prosecution for possessing even minuscule amounts of certain substances.

“Addiction should be treated by healthcare professionals rather than the criminal justice system and, as a taxpayer and citizen of Maine, I would prefer our tax dollars go to prevention, treatment, and recovery, rather than mounting costly felony prosecutions against the users actively facing addiction,” said Chris Poulos, a person in long term recovery who overcame addiction and federal incarceration to attend law school and work on criminal justice policy reform at the local, state, and federal levels.

New Hampshire: Legislature Moves To Add PTSD To Medical Marijuana List

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill introduced on Thursday in the New Hampshire Assembly would add post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of ailments eligible for medical marijuana authorizations. Medicinal cannabis was legalized in New Hampshire in 2013, but remains hard to get.

The proposed legislation comes as New Hampshire struggles with opioid and heroin addiction and an overdose crisis, reports Wilson Dizard at Al Jazeera. Medical marijuana advocates argue that safe access to cannabis would offer an alternative to people now using harsh narcotic painkillers or heroin.

Additionally, adding PTSD to the list of illnesses for which cannabis can be authorized could provide another option to those who haven't found relief with Big Pharma's anti-anxiety or antidepressant medications, according to advocates.

There's strong backing for both medical and recreational marijuana in the state, according to a University of New Hampshire poll last year.

Joe Lachance, the Republican Assemblyman who co-sponsored the PTSD bill, is one of just 62 medical marijuana cardholders in a state of 1.6 million people. A military veteran and former police officer, Lachance said he suffers from chronic pain and PTSD, which only marijuana has helped relieve. He said cannabis had also helped him kick an opiate habit.

Massachusetts: Doctors Use Marijuana As Opioid Substitute

CannabisForPain?ResearchSaysYes![IllegallyHealed]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Hundreds of opioid addicts in Massachusetts are being treated with medical marijuana, and advocates say the new therapy is a life-changing alternative to the deadly epidemic of painkiller addiction.

"We have a statewide epidemic of opioid deaths," said Dr. Gary Witman of Canna Care Docs, which issues medicinal cannabis authorizations in seven states, and has nine clinics in Massachusetts, reports Chris Villani at the Boston Herald. "As soon as we can get people off opioids to a nonaddicting substance -- and medicinal marijuana is nonaddicting -- I think it would dramatically improve the amount of opioid deaths."

Witman said he's treated about 80 patients who were addicted to opioid painkillers, muscle relaxers or anti-anxiety pharmaceuticals, using cannabis with a one-month tapering program. More than 75 percent of those patients stopped taking the harder drugs, according to Witman.

Cannabis can treat the symptoms patients had been using opioids and other drugs to manage, such as chronic pain or anxiety, and treat them far more safely, Witman said.

Dr. Harold Altvater of Delta 9 Medical Consulting in Malden, Mass., agreed that he's also seen success with medicinal cannabis as a substitution therapy. "You are basically taking something that can be very harmful for an individual, and substituting with another chemical, just like you would with any other drug, that has a wider safety margin," he said.

U.S.: Medical Marijuana Helping To Overcome Painkiller Abuse, Reduce Deaths

OpioidOverdose[Medscape.com]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

States with medical marijuana have seen the number of admissions to drug rehab facilities for pain medication and opioid overdoses decrease by 15 percent and 16 percent respectively, according to a new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research. "Our findings suggest that providing broader access to medical marijuana may have the potential benefit of reducing abuse of highly addictive painkillers," the researchers concluded.

Other studies have examined the relationship between legal cannabis use and opioid overdose rates, but this is the first study to track addiction to opioids, as well, reports Katherine Ellen Foley at Quartz.

The paper builds on previous work showing that "states with medical marijuana laws on the books saw 24.8 percent fewer deaths from painkiller overdoses compared to states that didn't have such laws," reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post. But the new paper's findings are even more compelling -- it uses more data, and the authors drew on a broader range of statistical methods to test the validity of their data.

U.S.: Dr. Oz Says He'd Opt For Cannabis, Given That Option

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Popular TV physician Dr. Oz on Friday ran a positive story on medicinal cannabis. "Cannabis is a natural medicine which is less addictive and ultimately safer than opiates that are currently the standard of treatment," said Dr. Mehmet Oz, who is a cardiothoracic surgeon. "And as a physician, I'd opt for the safer choice, given that option."

Those with severe chronic pain have learned that our choices are limited, reports Devi E. Nampiaparampil, MD on DoctorOz.com. Medical marijuana is increasingly seen as an alternative to harsh, addictive pharmaceutical opioids which carry the threat of overdose.

Another problem with opioid painkillers is the phenomenon of tolerance, wherein the drugs become less effective over time, making larger doses necessary -- and, once again, bringing up the danger of overdose, since taking too large a dose of opioids can depress the portion of the brain which controls breathing.

Cannabis, on the other hand, has never caused any lethal drug overdoses -- and the number of opioid deaths appears to have decreased in states with laws allowing medical marijuana. It may be that the addition of cannabis is effectively replacing opioids for some people, and according to some studies it might also be boosting the pain relief patients get from the same dose of painkillers.

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