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Letter: Medical marijuana program would help ease opioid abuse

Medical marijuana program would help ease opioid abuse

The clear conclusion of The News’ ongoing reporting and opinion on the opiate crisis is there is no single solution.

One proven approach to reducing deaths has been missing from the discussion. Studies have shown that in states with effective medical marijuana programs including chronic pain as a qualifying condition, opioid deaths are 25 percent to one-third less than those, like New York, without.

Cannabis is not a treatment for opioid addiction, but a proven treatment for many pain conditions. Many patients are able to reduce or cease use of addictive and potentially fatal drugs, including opioids, anti-depressants and anti-seizure medications, most commonly prescribed for pain.

Meanwhile, cannabis has less frequency of addiction than any of those drugs, tobacco, alcohol or caffeine. Cannabis was the most prescribed drug in the United States for two centuries prior to prohibition. Where are the legends of addiction?

Thanks to the State Legislature and, even more, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York has the most restrictive, most expensive, medical cannabis program in the nation. With opioid deaths spiraling, it is past time for them to act to create a comprehensive medical cannabis program with robust distribution.

Jamie Leaver