Elizabeth Warren Advocates Legalizing Marijuana - Here's Why
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren urges Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to consider legalizing marijuana as a substitute for painkiller. The senator also points out that this can ultimately end the opioid crisis in the country.
In a letter addressed to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chief Thomas Friedman, Warren argued that marijuana should be explored as an alternative given the alarming increase in painkiller addictions, reports Washington Post. The Massachusetts Democrat is also asking the agency to look into the impact the legalization on opioid overdose deaths.
"Our country is faced with an opioid epidemic that only continues to grow at an alarming pace," the Democratic lawmaker was quoted by NY Daily on her letter to Frieden on Monday. "Opioid abuse is a national concern and warrants swift and immediate action."
Last month, CDC reports that the number of deaths due to opioid overdose has more than doubled between 2000 and 2014. This increase has affected both men and women across all age and ethnic groups, according to NY Daily.
Washington Post reports that Warren may have a point viewed from the standpoint of public health.
A huge meta-analysis of 79 studies in the Journal of the American Association found concrete evidence that marijuana is indeed effective in treating chronic pain. Researchers found improvement of 30 percent or greater with cannabinoids compared with placebo.
Another Canadian study finds support in the treatment using marijuana. Published last year in the journal Pain, the study found no proof of serious side effects among medical marijuana users after years of treatment. However, the study noted that users reported some incident of "non-serious" side effects such as coughing and dizziness.
Meanwhile, a research published last year in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review found that 52 percent of pot users reportedly drink less when taking medical marijuana. The study also established that 80 percent of medical marijuana users admitted using pot alternatively for painkillers.
The researchers concluded that the high rate of substitution for prescribed substances, especially among pain-related conditions, should urge further research into cannabis or cannabinoids as a possible substitute for opiates.
Another study published in JAMA Internal Medicine last 2014 found that a decrease of 24.8 percent in opioid overdose deaths compared to states without such laws. That translates to 1,700 fewer deaths in 2010 alone.
Lastly, an NBER working paper published last year found that presence of marijuana dispensaries was linked with a 15 to 35 percent decrease in substance abuse admissions and opiate overdose deaths.
NY Daily reports that Warren is among the growing list of politicians who advocates for a change in the nation's marijuana laws. Last year, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders have introduced a bill that will eliminate federal laws prohibiting marijuana. In turn, this will allow individual states to regulate pot according to their own terms.
Check out this report on medical marijuana and painkillers: