Beyond Bars: Brian Wood

Brian Wood

Beyond Bars

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 That is not just outdated in the scientific world, it has been proven incorrect.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. 

Brian Wood, of Layton, pleaded guilty to nine felony charges for offenses from 2011 to 2014, including counts of burglary, drug possession and prescription fraud. He served four years in the Utah State prison system before being released on parole on Jan. 2, 2018.


(9) comments


I find it odd that there's so many Pro Opioid Comments on this opinion peice. Medical MJ never promised to be a Panacea but an alternative to pain management with out the addictive "Qualities" that Opioids seem to provide.

Without knowing better I suspect the below Comments are "Bought and Paid For" by the the Anti Medical MMJ Group known as DSU, (Also known as Eagle Forum, UMA and the Church)

You Decide!


Non medical person SELLING a product by jumping on the opioid hysteria bandwagon, SHAME ON YOU, those of us with incurable diseases and or untreatable medical conditions who have been through dozens of surgeries and every possible treatment and have been successfully treated with pain medication without abusing them deserve the right to quality of life, I agree with medical marijuana and CBD for those who want to use it, I’m allergic to it so where does that leave me? Every single body is different, opioids have worked for hundreds of years, not my fault some people have addiction issues, pain patients should NOT be left to suffer agonizing pain due to the faults of others, Don’t Punish Rally for your right to pain Treatment Sept 18th,


I, too, have long term chronic pain that I use pain meds for. I probably will the rest of my life. I have been on them for about 15 years. I have not overdosed. I take them as prescribed or if not hurting really badly, I won’t take one. People that have family members that OD are quick to blame the doctor. It’s not the doctor not taking them as prescribed. It’s called being a responsible adult.
As far as medicinal marijuana, I am all for it. I know people it has helped. If it helps someone why should they not be allowed to use it? Chronic pain sucks and anything that can help someone to have at least some resemblance of a life, then what does it hurt.


Don’t blame the pain patients who are properly monitored. Here is the non-BS truth
In general, new addictions are uncommon among people who take opioids for pain in general. A Cochrane review of opioid prescribing for chronic pain found that less than one percent of those who were well-screened for drug problems developed new addictions during pain care; a less rigorous, but more recent review put the rate of addiction among people taking opioids for chronic pain at 8-12 percent.
Moreover, a study of nearly 136,000 opioid overdose victims treated in the emergency room in 2010, which was published in JAMA Internal Medicine
in 2014 found that just 13 percent had a chronic pain condition.
All of this this means that steps to limit prescribing opioids for chronic pain run a great risk of harming pain patients without doing much to stop addiction. The vast majority of people who are prescribed opioids use them responsibly—recent research on roughly one million insurance claims for opioid prescriptions showed that just less than five percent of patients misused the drugs by getting prescriptions for them from multiple doctors. 


This blog is stupidity at its worst. I've tried pot, and tried it and tried it and tried it and tried again, but it doesn't do anything for the severity of my rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease and fibromyalgia pain. Yes I actually have all of that. It is ridiculous that people like you are going around adding to the misinformation and hysteria about opioid pain medication. You people have no idea what you're talking about! You're helping to make life very difficult for those of us who actually need it and take it the way we're supposed to and you're creating more addicts! The stupidity that is going on in the country right now needs to stop and people who don't know what the heli they're talking about need to stop talking about it! I am sick of being treated like a drug addict and its people like you who cause the problem.


not only are you non-medical personnel but you're also an ex-con! I can't believe they published this!


Life is full of pain and discomfort emotionally and physically, pot won't save us from the human condition. Of course sometimes we need pain medication but far to often it is over prescribed! We need to rethink how we as a society think about pain.


I'm tired of so many non-medical personnel making a case against medical treatments. I've had chronic pain since destroying my neck and crushing my pelvis in a car wreck in 1996 wearing one of those awesome automatic shoulder seat belts with no lap belt. I've also had severe generalized anxiety since then and plenty of trauma. AND I've known several people who have overdosed. You know what? Having some quality of life as I slip permanently into a wheelchair has definitely been a battle, but it's doable. Food, exercise and positive things to keep myself busy with have made the last 22 years bearable while opiods and benzos have taken the edge off. I repeat what my surgeon told me two decades ago, "You won't have a day without pain and also be conscious for the rest of your life." The problem isn't opiods or Drs or the people in pain, it's anyone who thinks there's a waking, pain free moment when your body is somehow broken. Suck it up butter cup, and do your best to make the best of your situation, or get sucked under by drug misuse. I'd rather just be responsible with my meds!


Pot does nothing for pain. Opioids are fantastic and anyone using them for means other than pain relief deserve whatever happens to them. I have permanent nerve damage thanks to terrible doctors.

Ad for pot disguised as a news story...

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