Every time you turn around, there is another story about marijuana reform in America. Regardless of which side of the argument you stand, you consistently read new headlines to ponder regarding how cannabis is making its way into the mainstream. In many states, reform has been embraced with open arms and surprising public support. However, there are also cases where marijuana reform is being faced with strong opposition. Now, you can consider New Hampshire as one of these instances. This week, a House committee voted to approve a new marijuana legalization bill.
Due to the notably high rates of opioid overdoses in the state of New Hampshire, many are contesting marijuana legalization. The Granite State has been hit pretty hard by the ongoing epidemic, and many officials feel that pushing for legal cannabis will only make the drug problem worse.
Government Officials Pushing Back
Governor Chris Sununu is just one of many officials in New Hampshire trying to put a stop the marijuana legalization. They insist that the issue isn’t only concerning cannabis, but also opioids and other drugs.
It is understandable that people are hesitant to embrace drug reform policies in an area that has one of the highest per capita death rates due to opioid overdose in the country. Citizens and communities all over the state have suffered, while money and resources have been pouring into efforts to combat overdose deaths. Therefore, opponents of marijuana legalization are insisting it is too risky to consider easy access to any drug at this point.
Governor Sununu states,
“When we are dealing with opioids as the single biggest health crisis this state has ever had, you are going to tell me legalizing more drugs is the answer? Absolutely not.”
Many still argue that marijuana is a gateway drug and that by allowing recreational access to cannabis they will be effectively increasing the rate of opioid abuse. This is instigating a further national discussion about whether or not marijuana use is a gateway to opioid abuse.
Sununu may be a Republican, but the opposition to legalization is not exclusively partisan. In fact, both New Hampshire Senators, Senator Jeanne Shaheen, and Senator Maggie Hassan, are Democrats that express their own opposition to marijuana legalization. Sununu even has the state commission on alcohol and drug abuse against the legislation.
Additionally, plenty of residents also support the push back. Many believe New Hampshire should focus on addressing the opioid crisis before considering cannabis reform. Ronald G. Shaiko, who is studying public policy and social sciences at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, says that many residents feel that the government hasn’t responded well enough to the opioid epidemic. Therefore, most are skeptical about adding more drugs into the mix.
Marijuana Legalization VS Opioid Addiction
Proponents of cannabis reform do not dismiss the opioid crisis, but instead, argue that increasing access to marijuana could actually reduce rates of opioid overdose. This is a movement that has also begun gaining ground in recent years. State Representative Renny Cushing, who is sponsoring the legalization bill, stated:
“What we’ve come to understand is that marijuana in many instances is an exit drug, not a gateway drug.”
Legalization supports point to a 2018 study that shows an association between daily marijuana use and remaining in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs. Additionally, a 2014 study found that states with medical marijuana had lower death rates from opioid overdoses. Some states are now encouraging marijuana use instead of opioids or making opioid addiction a qualifying condition to receive a medical marijuana prescription.
New Bill Barely Passes
Even with a bipartisan message of caution, the new legislation to establish recreational marijuana in New Hampshire appears to be moving forward. Advocates for the new bill believe that Governor Sununu is fear mongering and using the opioid crisis to block the Democratic-controlled state legislature.
The New England area is known for embracing more liberal policies on social issues. Following the other states in the New England area, New Hampshire legalized medical marijuana in 2013. Then during Sununu’s administration, the state decriminalized marijuana possession in small amounts in 2017.
This new bill will make it legal for people over the age of 21 years old to possess, consume, buy and grow small amounts of marijuana. The bill also makes an effort to establish a commission responsible for licensing and regulating:
- Retail establishments
One state commission states that the tax revenue from a new cannabis industry could give New Hampshire between $15.3 million and $57.8 million a year. The financial benefits of cannabis reform have been a real selling point in many states. To put it in perspective, California:
- Taxes all sales of recreational and medical marijuana by 15%
- Made over $2.75 billion on recreational sales
- Added over 80,000 new jobs with cannabis sales
Needless to say, that is a lot of money. Some estimate the legal cannabis industry could grow to a whopping $25 billion in 2025.
Another huge selling point of the bill for many people is that it would expunge prior convictions for offenses relating to cannabis that are made legal under the new law.
The New Hampshire House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee approved the bill on Thursday, February 21, 2019, in a 10-9 vote, cutting it incredibly close. However, Governor Sununu has reportedly vowed to veto the bill if it reaches his desk. Meanwhile, House Speaker Steve Shurtleff believes there are enough votes in his chamber, and maybe in the Senate as well, to override a veto from the Governor.
There does not seem to be one easy answer for the cannabis debate going on in New Hampshire. For the moment, both sides seem confident in their stance. Even experts who believe cannabis may be useful in helping fight opioid addiction say that more research is necessary. Therefore, many experts insist marijuana should not be used as a substitute for other methods of MAT.
Tym Rourke, a member of the state commission on alcohol and drug abuse who oversees addiction-related programs for the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, makes a good case for proceeding with caution. Rourke points out that while marijuana could be more or less safe for the average person, that doesn’t mean it is safe for everyone. Rourke states,
“For some people, it’s unsafe. And as we are grappling with a high volume of individuals struggling with the consequences of substance misuse, do we really want to create a system that puts another substance more into the marketplace or more into their presence?”
This is a sentiment echoed by many addiction recovery advocates. There are those who believe in studying the benefits, but many holds with the idea that even if some are able to safely use cannabis, the same may not be true for many of those with substance use disorders. Therefore, as the movement for marijuana legalization continues, we should still be aware of those who could be at risk of relapse or prolonged drug use.
Even if marijuana is legal in certain areas, there should still be support for resources that treat people suffering due to substance abuse. Even if you don’t believe marijuana is a gateway drug, it can still be risky for those in recovery. Furthermore, marijuana addiction is possible for some, even if it is not as life-threatening as heroin addiction. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
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Over a year ago, it was uncovered that a Big Pharma entity spent over $500,000 to oppose legalizing medical marijuana. This is just one example of how the pharmaceutical industry working over years to influence marijuana policy in America. What was so interesting about this company’s efforts is that their own product was a sublingual fentanyl spray.
That’s the same synthetic opioid that became a major factor in the ongoing opioid crisis in America as it was integrated into the illegal drug market.
Marijuana advocates see the move from drug makers to oppose legalization as an attempt to prevent competition. Studies show cannabis can be an effective substitute for pain treatment. Many states with medical marijuana laws acknowledge it as a means to help treat chronic pain patients.
So it became even more telling when it was revealed that the same fentanyl maker undermining medical marijuana was also developing their own synthetic THC.
Insys Therapeutics VS Cannabis
This isn’t the only time we have written about the shady dealings of Insys Therapeutics. Some may recall back in 2017 when the former CEO and founding father of the company had criminal charges brought against him, along with other company executives, for racketeering and corrupt marketing schemes.
For years, Insys has been trying to sway marijuana policy decisions. In 2011, the Big Pharma racket wrote to the DEA expressing opposition to loosening restrictions on naturally derived THC. In the letter Insys claims “the abuse potential in terms of the need to grow and cultivate substantial crops of marijuana in the United States.”
But later in 2016 the company petitioned the DEA to loosen restrictions on synthetic versions of CBD, which is another key component of the cannabis plant. Why? Because they were developing a CBD-based drug to treat pediatric epilepsy. At the time, Insys Therapeutics made a statement claiming their opposition to the marijuana legalization proposition was because, “it fails to protect the safety of Arizona’s citizens, and particularly its children.” However, the company did insist that is believed in the benefits of cannabinoids.
Now, the company accused of aggressively pushing an incredibly potent and potentially lethal opioid drug onto patients who did not need it is now working on another new racket- Syndros.
Syndros: Synthetic THC
As a chief financial backer of the opposition to medical marijuana in Arizona, Insys Therapeutics has worked hard to give itself a monopoly on the market.
Syndros is a synthetic version of the THC compound found in the cannabis plant. This is the main psychoactive component of the substance and is behind a lot of the controversy around marijuana legalization. However, Syndros was approved by the FDA to treat cancer and AIDS patients for symptoms including:
- Weight loss
This drug is very similar to Marinol, another synthetic THC product that was already approved by the FDA to treat anorexia in cancer and AIDS patients.
Syndros and its generic variations are considered a Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act. This acknowledges it for medical benefits, but indicates a “high potential for abuse.” So it is on the same level as prescription painkillers, morphine, and cocaine.
Meanwhile, marijuana is still a Schedule I drug, meaning the FDA still considers it more dangerous than morphine, Oxycontin and now synthetic THC.
Dronabinol is a synthetic THC nasal spray that was quietly granted a Schedule II classification about a year ago. The FDA allows it to be prescribed, sold and federally regulated. This is another product from Insys Therapeutics capitalizing on the components of cannabis while the company fought to smother any competition.
Ironically, in 2007 the company had admitted in a disclosure statement to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that if cannabis or synthetic cannabinoids were legal “the market for dronabinol product sales would likely be significantly reduced and our ability to generate revenue and our business prospects would be materially adversely affected.”
So in short- they adamantly opposed medical cannabis efforts for years in order to limit competition. Meanwhile, they were developing their own drugs derived from cannabis. But it was not enough for the company to oppose cannabis legalization efforts. Insys also worked to disrupt other Big Pharma companies from trying to create generic versions of its drug.
Shutting Out Competition
Now, according to publicly available documents, Insys has tried to extend its monopoly over its oral dronabinol product. In October 2017, Insys Therapeutics requested that the FDA decline applications from competitors seeking to produce generic versions of Syndros. They’ve already sued two such drug companies:
- Par Pharmaceuticals
- Alkem Laboratories
Each had submitted Abbreviated New Drug Applications (ANDA). And ANDA is the first step in the process of gaining approval for generic versions of existing drugs. The request from Insys consisted of two parts:
- It asked the FDA to decline to “receive or approve” any ANDA applications that didn’t establish “in vivo bioequivalence” to its drug.
- Asked that ANDA applications for its drug “include fed and fasted state bioequivalence studies.”
Essentially, Insys was claiming that Dronabinol was too complex to be replicated by generic competitors.
However, the FDA eventually denied the company’s petition.
Robin Feldman is a professor of law and director of the Institute for Innovation Law at UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. She literally wrote the book on all the ways mainstream pharmaceutical companies try to subvert generic competition. When discussing the language used in Insys petition to the FDA, she states:
“Companies pile these exclusivities on one after another to keep generic competitors off the market as long as possible. So the reason I laughed is what you are seeing is a multipronged effort by the brand company to stave off generic entry as long as possible.”
Insys has been able to enjoy some time cornering the market on synthetic THC products. But apparently, it is very likely that more companies will be able to get in on the racket pretty soon.
The Other Synthetic Marijuana
Then there is the other synthetic marijuana sold on the streets, which is very different and extremely dangerous.
Meanwhile, we have seen countless stories in recent years of the synthetic THC products made on the streets for recreational use and how these chemical compounds have resulted in outbreaks of overdoses. Infamous brands like Spice and K2 are designed to mimic the properties of natural marijuana. However, these synthetic cannabinoids can cause a range of adverse side effects, including:
- Cardiac arrest
These are the more dangerous synthetics made in unregulated labs with chemical cocktails that are unpredictable and frequently toxic. Thousands of people have been hospitalized over the years due to the synthetic THC on the street. There are even dozens of fatalities attributed to illicit synthetic THC products.
Again, these are two different variations of synthetic THC. Synthetics like Spice or K2 are not quite the same thing as medications produced by companies like Insys. However, it should at least give some pause to consider that they are being created with the same intention- to artificially manufacture the effects of cannabis.
Drug Makers Want Marijuana Monopoly
Officials all over America are calling out Big Pharma companies for pushing to stop cannabis legalization efforts. Some say many of these drug companies are just trying to sell more drugs that addict patients. Essentially, the argument is that pharmaceutical companies are actively making a profit from drugs containing marijuana constituents while lobbying to prevent medicinal cannabis growth and development.
So do companies like Insys have the best interest of the patient in mind? Can a company accused of questionable tactics and supposedly illegal kickbacks be trusted with a monopoly on synthetic THC? Or are they just want a monopoly on marijuana-derived substances?
And if opioid makers get to dominate the market on synthetic THC products, will they be willing to put more people at risk of drug abuse and addiction in order to maintain their dominance?
Whether it’s natural cannabis, illicit synthetic marijuana, or medical synthetic THC, the risk for substance abuse should be taken seriously. Marijuana use disorder is a real issue that affects a lot of people across the country every day. If medical marijuana products are going to continue to evolve, our treatment of marijuana use disorder has to evolve with it. Innovative and holistic treatment options can make all the difference.
Marijuana use disorder is a very real issue that people struggle with all over America. If you or someone you love is struggling with a substance use disorder, such as chemical dependency or addiction, please call toll-free now to speak with a specialist today. We want to help.
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When the Trump administration’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in January he was determined to “return to the rule of law” in America, with the intention of enforcing federal prohibition of cannabis in all 50 states, it created quite a bit of backlash. Many officials in states where marijuana had been legalized either medically or for recreational use spoke out against it.
Just a few days after former Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner endorsed decriminalization, it seems there is more big news concerning cannabis.
Now, it seems President Trump himself is turning on Sessions. A recent report states that Trump has promised to support legislation that will protect the marijuana industry in states that have already legalized the drug.
Trump and Cannabis
During the 2016 Presidential campaign, then-candidate Trump was relatively inconsistent about his own position on cannabis. At one moment, he would pledge that he was going to respect state’s rights when it came to legalized marijuana. Then, he would criticize legalization and imply that it had to be stopped.
In 2015 at the Conservative Political Action Conference, he said recreational pot was “bad.” He even criticized Colorado, which was the first American state to legalize recreational marijuana sales, saying:
“They’ve got a lot of problems going on right now in Colorado – some big problems,”
But then a year later, on the campaign trail, Trump changed his tune during an interview in Colorado, saying:
“I’m a states person, it should be up to the states, absolutely.”
While it isn’t impossible to be opposed to recreational use while still supporting a state’s right to decide for themselves, many were still blindsided when Sessions made his announcement back at the beginning of the year that he doing away with the Obama era policy of non-interference with state laws on cannabis. At the time, Sessions stated:
“The previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law and the ability of our local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement partners to carry out this mission.”
One person in particular who was taken aback was Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner, who said Sessions had promised him he’d do nothing to interfere with Colorado’s growing marijuana market.
Gardner Fought Back
Senator Gardner was not prepared to sit this one out, either. In protest of Sessions, Gardner used his power as a senator to block all appointments to the Department of Justice. Gardner’s pledge is especially impressive as a Republican fighting an administration run by members of his own party.
It did not go unnoticed. Other GOP members were not happy about Gardner’s insistence. Last month Gardner actually allowed some nominees to proceed as a show of “good-faith”. For months the senator has been meeting with the Justice Department to discuss the issue. Now it finally seems it may be all paying off for Gardner.
Following a promise from the Trump administration, Gardner said he would be fully releasing his holds on DOJ nominations. Gardner states,
“Late Wednesday, I received a commitment from the President that the Department of Justice’s rescission of the Cole Memo will not impact Colorado’s legal marijuana industry.”
Gardner also states that President Trump has promised Gardner-
“-that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states’ rights issue once and for all.”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed the administration’s position and said that Senator Gardner’s statement was accurate.
Currently, the drafting of legislation to protect states with legalized marijuana is underway. Some speculate it may be modeled after another Obama era budget amendment that prevented the Department of Justice from spending money to enforce federal laws against states where marijuana had been legalized, permitted the state law was being followed.
While at this time Sessions has not made a public statement about this development, sources familiar with the topic report that the Justice Department was not consulted before the phone call between Trump and Gardner.
So the next question is, will President Trump follow through on this promise? What kind of legislation is he willing to support? What language will be used to ensure that states have the ability to decide their own legal status and regulations for cannabis?
Help for Marijuana Abuse
While the legal status of cannabis may change as the government adjusts to new policies, the fact remains that it is still possible to abuse marijuana. Even when drugs are legal, there are still plenty of risks. We know this because there are drugs that have been legal for decades but still manage to negatively impact thousands of people. Habitual substance use can be extremely harmful, especially to someone who struggles with substance use disorder. Even marijuana can have adverse effects on the quality of life for someone with a substance abuse problem.
Cannabis is not commonly considered to be as dangerous as other illicit drugs, such as heroin or methamphetamines. However, people who use the drug can still experience different levels of dependence. Marijuana may not be as physically destructive and addictive as other “harder” drugs. However, psychiatrists also believe the psychological impacts of substances do make a difference. Psychology effects can be just as detrimental.
Getting help for marijuana abuse starts with a secure environment that offers a variety of therapeutic opportunities. Developing a healthy lifestyle without relying on the use of drugs is a crucial element of treatment for marijuana abuse. So as policies and public opinions change regarding cannabis, we should also make sure that there are always resources to help those who struggle with substance use disorder.
There still needs to be resources available to help people who suffer from abuse. Supporting addiction recovery means breaking the stigma and offering holistic and effective solutions. Palm Healthcare Company is here to help. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
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Anyone who pays attention to politics has a lot to talk about this week. There is plenty going on in the world of government, from Facebook and Congress to scandals and controversy. But one bit of surprising news comes from someone who has stepped away from politics for some time now. John Boehner, well-known figure in the Republican Party, recently has made a dramatic shift in support of cannabis legalization.
Who is John Boehner?
Just to provide a little background, John Boehner is an American politician who served as the 53rd Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 2011 to 2015. He served on behalf of Ohio’s 8th congressional district from 1991 to 2015. This district includes rural and suburban areas near Cincinnati and Dayton.
For a long time, John Boehner was known for his hard-line stance against marijuana legalization. At one point he was even quoted as saying he was “unalterably opposed” to legalizing marijuana. While serving in government, Boehner was never an ally for marijuana advocates, and the only vote he ever cast on the topic of legalization was in 1999 when he fought against medical marijuana in Washington.
In fact, one advocate remembers Boehner as being in strong opposition to marijuana while in office. The executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Erik Altieri, said Boehner has actually opposed “even the mildest of marijuana law reforms.”
So many have seen this sudden endorsement from John Boehner for marijuana reform as a sign of the times, and how much the political landscape has changed.
Acreage Holdings is a company that cultivates, processes and dispenses cannabis in 11 states around America. On the company website they state:
“These combined markets represent $9 billion in potential revenue by 2020, and we’re ready to move forward as legislation allows.”
The website also states:
“2018 is going to be a record-breaking year for Acreage, as we expect production to increase in several lucrative states including New York, Florida, California, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Maine. We’re looking beyond this year, however, with a comprehensive strategy that will make us the world’s largest fully-integrated cannabis company.”
With recent reforms the cannabis industry has a growing potential for profit. So there is no wonder John Boehner is now going to be joining the board of advisors at Acreage Holdings.
To sum it up, the company works to “make cannabis available to any patient who can benefit from safe and reliable access.”
Pro-Cannabis Change of Heart
So why the drastic change of heart? According to a tweet from Boehner:
“I’m joining the board of #AcreageHoldings because my thinking on cannabis has evolved. I’m convinced de-scheduling the drug is needed so we can do research, help our veterans, and reverse the opioid epidemic ravaging our communities.”
In one interview on the subject, Boehner stated:
“Over the last 10 to 15 years, the American people’s attitudes have changed dramatically. I find myself in that same position.”
Boehner said his change of heart really started when he watched cannabis help a close friend deal with their back pain. Then, he said, “you begin to really scratch your head” when looking at how many people are in prison for marijuana possession.
Still, Boehner maintains he has NOT tried using cannabis and does not intend to.
There is another name from the Republican Party standing with Boehner; Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld is also joining the board of Acreage Holdings. In a joint statement, both men say they think it is time for consideration of shifting federal marijuana policy. They pointed out the specific value cannabis could hold for veterans for treating things like:
Opinions from Advocates
Erik Altieri says that having John Boehner in their corner could be a huge help to marijuana advocates. Altieri believes it is crucial for Republican leaders like Boehner to take charge on this issue, stating:
“If this is only led by Democrats, we will continue to see no forward momentum on this issue. We really need to present this as the bipartisan issue it really is.”
Other advocates are still saying Boehner should be using his influence to work with people still in office toward better policy. Morgan Fox, a spokesman for Marijuana Policy Project, said:
“[Boehner] should be actively working to reform federal marijuana laws to allow states to determine their own policies, rather than just consulting with a business to navigate the conflicts between state and federal law.”
Talking about head scratching- it’s too bad he didn’t have that realization while still in office. Especially when you consider nearly half a million people were arrested for selling marijuana during his term as speaker.
New York Times also reports that Morgan Fox stated:
“[Boehner’s] positions on the issue while in House leadership most likely slowed progress for marijuana reform legislation, and he owes it to anyone whose life has been negatively impacted by a marijuana arrest to use his considerable influence to make up for that.”
According to a recent Gallup poll, the United States is currently at a record high for support of marijuana, with:
- 64% of Americans said marijuana should be legalized
- 72% of Democrats support it
- 51% of Republicans support it
Needless to say, stock in the cannabis industry mainstays saw a decent spike following the announcement from Boehner. Some argue that Boehner is just selling his influence to cash in on the up-and-coming cash crop. However, others say either way it is good for those hoping for an end to the old policies of prohibition.
As cannabis reform continues to evolve, there should also be resources available for those who do struggle with drug or alcohol abuse. Even as the substance becomes more widely accepted or even legalized, there will still be people who suffer from substance use disorder. As we support progressive changes in drug policy, we also need to make sure people have access to drug and alcohol treatment.
Supporting addiction recovery means breaking the stigma and offering holistic and effective solutions. Palm Healthcare Company is here to help. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
Last Thursday, over two years after Republican Governor Gregg Abbott signed the law to legalize the sale of specific cannabis oil in Texas for intractable epilepsy, the first legal delivery in the state was made.
Many medical cannabis advocates are calling this a historic moment for the Lone Star State, as it could be the catalyst to usher in a new era of drug policy as it relates to medicinal alternatives.
The First Delivery
The first recipient of medical cannabis oil in Texas was a school-aged child. A spokesperson for the company told reporters that it could not disclose which city the patient lives in, but did share how the delivery was made.
Current regulations dictate that only a social worker or nurse can deliver the medical cannabis product to a patient or the patient’s caregiver. In the case of Texas’s first delivery, a nurse transported the oil to the patient’s home. The nurse also showed the patient how to use it.
The first delivery was made by Knox Medical, a dispensary in Schulenburg. José Hidalgo, the founder, and CEO of Knox Medical stated,
“For Texans suffering from intractable epilepsy, the wait for medical cannabis is finally over. This is a historic day for Texas and we will work tirelessly to uphold the trust and responsibility the state has placed in Knox Medical.”
Notably, less than 1% of the population of Texas suffer from intractable epilepsy. But still, that comes out to roughly 160,000 people.
Texas Medical Cannabis Law
At this point, there are only three licensed medical cannabis dispensaries in the state of Texas. These facilities were allowed to be opened following the 2015 Texas Compassion Use Act. But the programs are run by the Texas Department of Public Safety. However, Texas has not been as open with their medical cannabis movement as other parts of the country. As of now, state law scarcely allows for the sale of medical cannabis oils. The only oils to be sold are those that meet requirements:
- Low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive element in marijuana known as THC.
- High levels of cannabidiol, a non-euphoric component known as CBD that is used to treat epilepsy and other chronic medical conditions.
And patients themselves have to meet very specific criteria. A person only qualifies if:
- They are a permanent resident of Texas
- Have been diagnosed with intractable epilepsy
- Must have tried two FDA-approved drugs and found them ineffective
- Qualified physician has determined they would benefit from medical cannabis
- Have a second qualified physician agree with the assessment that they would benefit
Qualified doctors must be listed on the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas.
Needless to say, Texans won’t be rushing out to dispensaries anytime soon to stock up on medicinal marijuana. State officials seem to have a very precise mission in mind when it comes to allowing for this treatment to go forward. Still, some medical cannabis supporters are happy with the direction. So how do products like medical cannabis and CBD oil impact those trying to recovery from addiction?
Legalization and Recovery
In the world of recovery from drugs or alcohol, the idea that marijuana legalization is becoming more widely accepted may seem tempting to some. Others seem to believe legalizing marijuana invites more hard drug use. What does it really mean for the recovery community or people struggling with addiction?
Legalizing a drug and having it readily available may be tempting, but it’s not as if it isn’t already done everywhere with alcohol. Almost any store you walk into is stocked with booze and plastered with adds to try and sell cigarettes. People in recovery from addiction are already exposed every day to some of the most dangerous drugs in the world because they are legal.
When we talk about legalization of marijuana, we want to remind people that for many struggling with substance use disorder the issue is not the specific chemicals you are using. Addiction is far more complex, influencing the mind while terrorizing the body. A drug is not suddenly any safer or better for you because it is becoming socially acceptable or legal.
It is important to find a middle ground. We can support those who benefit from new modalities while offering effective treatment opportunities to those who struggle. However, it is also important to offer experience and education for those who truly struggle with chemical dependency and everything else that comes with substance use disorder. It may seem easier to justify using marijuana for some people. But people should also know that marijuana abuse is a real risk. Substituting one drug for another is probably not the best option for some habitual drug users.
Medicinal and recreational marijuana reforms may be changing the way that the law dictates drug use for some, but for the addict or alcoholic, the risk can be far greater than they expect. Part of comprehensive and effective recovery is understanding how drugs affect people differently and learning how to make the best decisions for your health and your future. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
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Last week we reported on the story of President Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinding a marijuana memo from the Obama administration that established a policy of refraining from federal interference with state laws concerning marijuana use. Once the announcement hit the internet, people from all sides of the argument began chiming in with either praise for the “rule of law” stance of this administration, or adamant opposition of this new policy that essentially reignites the “war on weed” in America.
This announcement came only days after the state of California had officially enacted the legalization of recreational marijuana. Needless to say, the conversation has not yet been dismissed. One voice came from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
American Civil Liberties Union VS Sessions
For some background, the American Civil Liberties Union is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization with a stated mission:
“to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.”
The ACLU has over one million members and works through litigation and lobbying while providing legal assistance in cases when it considers civil liberties to be at risk.
In response to the news of Jeff Sessions rescinding the Obama-era policy for a hands-off approach to legal marijuana states, the deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union, Jesselyn McCurdy stated:
“Criminalizing marijuana may be a priority for Attorney General Sessions—who has spent decades using bad science to push his own regressive agenda—but it is not a priority for the American people, 52 percent of whom support legalization. Rescinding this guidance is yet another example of how this administration’s ‘law and order’ philosophy is deeply out of touch with most Americans. With today’s decision, the Department of Justice is essentially telling at least six states and the District of Columbia that they are not entitled to govern as they see fit when it comes to drug policy. For politicians who purport to believe in ‘small government’ and states’ rights, this is a wildly incongruous move.”
Later on in the statement, McCurdy concludes,
“The War on Marijuana, like the War on Drugs, has failed by almost every measure—with the exception of successfully destroying communities of color. Marijuana criminalization negatively impacts public housing and student financial aid eligibility, employment opportunities, child custody decisions, and immigration status. Today’s decision furthers entrenches the country in racially biased, fiscally irresponsible, and morally wrong drug policy—and the ACLU will continue to fight it.”
And the ACLU is most definitely not alone in this mindset. Both Democrats and Republicans are openly criticizing this shift, with some like Senator Cory Gardner promising to oppose it at every opportunity.
Compassion Not Punishment
The backlash from this most recent decision from Jeff Sessions has come from all directions. Pretty much every publication and news outlet has covered this controversial move. As of now, there is no definitive answer as to how this policy change will impact those states where medical marijuana use is legal, or how it will impact the recreational marijuana industry.
But despite the fact that marijuana has become increasingly supported for medicinal use across the country, with many advocating for recreational use as well, the reality remains that drugs can still be abused, regardless of their legal status.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), marijuana use can lead to an individual developing problems known as marijuana use disorder. Data from recent studies research suggests:
- 30% of those who use marijuana may have some degree of marijuana use disorder
- Use of marijuana before age 18 makes someone 4-7 times more likely to develop marijuana use disorder
The NIDA also states that marijuana dependence occurs when the brain adapts to large amounts of the drug by reducing production of and sensitivity to its own endocannabinoid neurotransmitters. In 2015:
- About 4.0 million people in the United States met the diagnostic criteria for a marijuana use disorder
- Only 138,000 voluntarily sought treatment for their marijuana use
So while some may still experience difficulties due to their use of marijuana, the focus should still remain on support and assistance through compassionate care and treatment, not punishment. Regardless of whether you support the decision of the attorney general, or if you stand with the American Civil Liberties Union and other legalization advocates, you can support compassionate and comprehensive treatment for those who do struggle with substance use disorder.
Marijuana use disorder is a real condition for some people. If you or someone you love is struggling with a substance use disorder, such as chemical dependency or addiction, please call toll-free now to speak with a specialist today. We want to help!
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398