TN: Medical Cannabis Another Tool To Stem Narcotic Overdoses

Katelyn Baker

Well-Known Member
The current issue of Tennessee Medicine published by the Tennessee Medical Association describes progress in the fight against the plague of drug overdose deaths in the state.

Unfortunately, we are overlooking an important tool. The cost of Suboxone used to treat addicts and the high price of treatment at private pain management clinics remain an obstacle, resulting in users turning to dangerous street drugs.

Ignorance regarding new scientific findings about medical cannabis has been a barrier in the treatment of patients with chronic pain. In order to combat opioid overdoses, we should look again at legal cannabinoid use for Tennessee's chronic pain patients and those with opioid addiction. Even Dr. Oz had a recent episode featuring this therapy.

Cannabis when taken alone helps reduce pain. An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association found 30 percent or greater improvement in pain with cannabinoid compared with placebo across over 70 studies it reviewed.

Medical cannabis is an alternative to the use of potentially dangerous narcotics such as oxycodone and Fentanyl. Cannabis is not a narcotic, and there have been no recorded deaths due to a cannabis overdose. Adding cannabis treatment to prescribed opioids makes the opioids safer by decreasing the dose of opioid needed to control pain.

Another article published in the American Medical Association's Internal Medicine Journal found that states with medical marijuana laws have rates of anticipated opioid-related deaths 25 percent lower than states that don't have the program.

Other studies found that doctors in states that allow medical cannabis write 11 percent fewer prescriptions for opioids, and 80 percent of medical marijuana users reported substituting cannabis for prescription painkillers.

Ideally doctors would have the option to offer cannabis to chronic pain patients in combination with opioids.

There are several possibilities that may be politically feasible.

Physicians prescribing opioids might consider adding an off-label prescription for a small dose of Marinol, a FDA-approved medication whose active ingredient is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

The Tennessee Legislature could expand existing law that currently allows cannabidiol (CBD) oil for seizure patients to also include those with a diagnosis of chronic pain and/or opioid addiction.

State criminal penalties for cannabis possession could be reduced or eliminated for people who have been diagnosed with chronic pain syndrome or opioid addiction. This could allow both simple possession of cannabis for personal use and growing up to five cannabis plants (two adult plants). People with such a diagnosis could submit medical documentation for a medical cannabis card that would serve as a defense against criminal prosecution.

In addition, Tennessee could follow the lead of other states in setting up properly regulated medical cannabis dispensaries.

We need to look at all reasonable avenues to address the public health crisis affecting people with the diagnosis of chronic pain syndrome and opioid addiction.


News Moderator: Katelyn Baker 420 MAGAZINE ®
Full Article: Medical Cannabis Another Tool To Stem Narcotic Overdoses
Author: Matthew Hine
Contact: Knoxville News Sentinel
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Website: Knoxville News Sentinel
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