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Beyond Bars: When it comes to pain control, I’m for any path that avoids opioids

By Brian Wood, Beyond Bars Columnist - | Sep 3, 2018

Friday was International Overdose Awareness Day. Sadly, I can name a dozen people I have known that have lost their lives due to a drug overdose. In every one of those cases, opioids were involved. Half of those cases were with drugs that were legally prescribed to someone.

Overdose is now the leading cause of death for people under 50 years old, according to data collected by the Center for Disease Control. In 2017, its estimated that more than 70,000 people died of overdose. I was surprised to learn deaths involving pharmaceutical opioid analgesics, or in other words drugs from your local pharmacist, was nearly double that of heroin.

Most of you probably know the exact figure of people who have lost their lives due to a marijuana overdose, but I’ll share for those who don’t. The number is zero. There has never been a recorded incident of someone overdosing on cannabis.

For this reason, I am all for Proposition 2, which is the medical marijuana initiative on the ballot. I sure wish a doctor would have had the option to recommend marijuana for my pain rather than prescribing me OxyContin. When people ask about my downfall, I always make sure to include my moral failings, but have to explain that critical junction: “Well, I hurt my back and was prescribed pain killers…” Immediately they start nodding their head and saying, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard this story before.”

If someone asked me how I ended up homeless and then in prison, and I were to tell them, “Well, it all started when I hurt my back and started using THC edibles to cope with the pain,” there would be no head nodding, and I would have a lot of blanks to fill in. Basically, my opinion is that opioids are pretty much the devil incarnate and any alternative for the treatment of pain (marijuana) would save lives.

Still, some people don’t like that medical marijuana would only be “recommended” by doctors and that people could only get it from a dispensary and not a pharmacy. This is because marijuana would still be illegal federally. The federal government proclaimed that marijuana had no valid medical use. That is not just outdated in the scientific world, it has been proven incorrect.

Regardless, a doctor would not be able to prescribe it and a pharmacy would not be able to carry it, even when a state declares it legal. Because it is an impossibility, the argument that someone is for medical marijuana, so long as it is doctor-prescribed and through a licensed pharmacy, is asinine.

Being against legalizing marijuana for medicinal use because is one step closer to legalizing it for recreational use, is much less hypocritical, as there is no feigned compassion. I’d definitely classify myself as anti-recreational drug use, but I think the pros of medicinal outweigh the cons of recreational.

I view this much like gun control. Laws only penalize law-abiding citizens. Tons of people use marijuana recreationally now, and the argument can be made it is much less harmful overall than alcohol.

I’m not saying two wrongs make a right; smoking marijuana is especially unhealthy, but when you compare the two, it’s not even close. It’s safe to say a high percentage of the prisoners I met who committed violent crimes, did so under the influence of alcohol. I’m sure that percentage really spikes as it pertains to domestic violence. I never heard a prisoner say, “I just got so high on marijuana that I lost control and ruined my whole life that night.” On the other hand I heard so many sad stories how one drunk moment will forever define them.

I work for a shipping consulting company and recently closed my first deal with a company called Restored Balance. They sell CBD oil, which is the essential oil from the hemp plant minus THC which makes it legal. The owner encouraged me to do some research on CBD oil. I have heard personal testimony about how it has changed someone’s life by preventing seizures.

Until medical marijuana is legal, CBD oil may be an alternative for pain control. I am all for any path that avoids opioids. 


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