The elephant in the room: Why do we overlook medical marijuana for addictive …

February 5th, 2014 by admin Leave a reply »

Last month, the Maine attorney general’s office announced troubling news — that heroin overdoses in Maine quadrupled between 2011 and 2012. This had state leaders and policy experts frantically playing the blame game pointing to the economy, to MaineCare cuts and to recent restrictions on obtaining prescription opiates as the explanations for why more Mainers are turning to the street drug heroin to manage pain, addiction, or perhaps both.

The elephant in the room has never been more visible: The medical community needs to begin seriously considering medical marijuana as a viable treatment option to manage chronic pain and move away from opiates.

Chronic pain is clinically defined as pain lasting more than six months that doesn’t respond to standard medical or surgical procedures. Once diagnosed with chronic pain, patients move from treatment to pain management. Treatments include acupuncture, electrical stimulation, physical therapy, psychotherapy and steroid injections. The most common pain management treatment, however, is the use of opiates. In fact, an international study done in 2010 revealed 80 percent of the world’s opiates are consumed by Americans.

Diagnosed, chronic pain is a qualifying condition for the use of medical marijuana in Maine. Promising studies here and abroad have concluded that marijuana plays an important role in reducing addiction to, and abuse of, opiates, while providing similar analgesic benefits with far fewer physical and social risks.

To emphasize this point, the Center for Disease Control says that 38,329 people died of drug overdoses

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