Democrat Congressman from Oregon, Earl Blumenauer, has often been called the “Top Legal Pot Advocate” in the House of Representatives. Known for two decades of medical cannabis advocacy, Blumenauer recently co-authored a bipartisan bill with Republican Congressman Andy Harris (MD) that would cut through the bureaucratic red tape hampering marijuana research at the federal level.
The bill, House Resolution 3391, aims to amend the Controlled Substances Act to open up funding, production, and distribution of marijuana for medical and research purposes and eliminate some of the lengthy review procedures that are currently in place for such activities.
A Bipartisan Push to Resolve the Opioid Crisis
Giving a speech on the role of cannabis in combating the nation’s opioid epidemic to the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce earlier this month, Blumenauer also introduced a one-page handout for doctors entitled the Physician Guide to Cannabis-Assisted Opioid Reduction. The document provides a summary of the benefits of cannabis in treating opioid addiction and lists studies that prove that marijuana lowers opioid-related overdose deaths, reduces opioid consumption, and can even replace dangerous prescription opioids as a front-line, non-toxic painkiller.
This strong bipartisan push for more access to medical marijuana is just the latest in a series of legislative initiatives that have been put forth recently, including the CARERS Act, the Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act, and the MEDS Act.
With President Trump recently declaring the opioid crisis a public health emergency and the Center For Disease Control claiming that the number of deaths from opioid overdose has quadrupled in the last 15 years, it’s time to look at cannabis as a real treatment for a dilemma that affects millions.
Cannabis is the Anti-Gateway Drug
For inspiration, lawmakers need look no further than Colorado, where recreational marijuana has been legal since 2014. Colorado is the only state that is moving against the tide of opioid abuse, having actually seen its overdose numbers decrease over the last couple of years. This reversal is a strong indicator of the potential of marijuana to step in and solve the opioid crisis.
Far from being the gateway drug it has long been branded as, cannabis has been proven to be an excellent treatment for all kinds of addiction — from crack cocaine to tobacco — in numerous studies. Furthermore, as Blumenauer points out in his handout for physicians, cannabis is a potent, all-purpose painkiller and has even been recommended as an alternative to opioid painkillers by the National Institute of Health (NIH).
For those that don’t want the psychoactive effects of THC, CBD by itself has been proven to block opioid reward signaling and reduce addiction cravings, making it a powerful ally in the battle against addiction.
Because the only thing blocking further studies into the efficacy of cannabis for treating opioid addiction and preventing overdose is the federal government’s unreasonable regulations, Blumenauer’s new bill is an essential part of the popularly supported bipartisan push to open up access to medical marijuana to a broader swath of the population.