Cannabis has been proven to have numerous health benefits, which as recent research reveals, could directly help those involved in the ongoing opioid crisis in the U.S.
Particularly, states who have legalized medical marijuana experience lower rates of overall opioid use, according to multiple reports cited by The Hill. In the numerous studies mentioned, sources are cited which reveal cannabis access is indeed linked to decreased opioid use.
This week, the Minnesota Department of Health released data indicating that 63 percent of patients surveyed, who were registered in the state's medical cannabis program, “were able to reduce or eliminate opioid usage after six months."
This isn't the only body of work supporting such claims. In 2017, a clinical trial by Columbia University Medical Center concluded, "Smoked cannabis combined with an ineffective analgesic dose of oxycodone produced analgesia comparable to an effective opioid analgesic dose without significantly increasing cannabis abuse liability." In other words, patients who turned to cannabis didn't abuse cannabis like they likely had with opioids. Additionally, reports in Illinois and New Mexico drew similar conclusions.
In the United States, marijuana is difficult to research since it is still classified as a "Schedule I" drug by the Drug Enforcement Agency, despite the industry's potential to dramatically boost the domestic economy. For instance, the United States cannabis economy brought in $1.2 billion this past January alone.
That's why it's usually (but not always) easier to access cannabis in other countries, especially when it comes to scientific research. Research conducted in Israel—where medical cannabis is legalized—affirmed that opioid users experienced a drop in usage when given the opportunity to use cannabis instead.
As Jeff Sessions warns us of just how serious the opioid epidemic, he is overlooking a clear solution, right under his nose: cannabis.