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In the News: Voting On The Use of Marijuana To Treat Heroin Addiction in Maryland

Unorthodox treatments for opioid addiction is on the lookout by lawmakers despite lacking a scientific backup for their proposal. A law is being decided by the Maryland legislators that would permit the medical attendants to use medical marijuana in providing treatment to opioid addicts. Del. Cheryl Glenn, a Baltimore Democrat, said that the issues they experience with heroin addicts could be dealt with using the law to be enacted in the region. “With the problems we’re having with heroin, this is something that should be available in the state of Maryland.” She said.

It is meant to improve the medical marijuana program in Maryland and that the proposal is part of a larger bill overhaul. Patients who are afflicted with opioid use disorder will be prescribed the medical marijuana giving doctors the green light after the bill is passed. In 2016, there was an estimated number of 2000 opioid and heroin overdose deaths in Maryland. Unorthodox solutions to the crisis have also been made open by the bill advocates.

Lisa Lowe said that, “we need to support any and all paths to recovery”. She was with the Heroin Action Coalition of Maryland which is an addiction treatment advocacy group. Lack of scientific evidence supporting the claim that marijuana could be useful in treating patients’ dependency on opioid was also pointed out by the critics of the bill. Dr. Daniele Piomelli, a University of California, cannabis researcher and Irvine professor mentioned that there is proof of the medical drug being active in getting rid of different types of pain. The only problem was that it lacked the affirmation. “There is evidence that cannabis may be effective in alleviating certain forms of pain, and may be useful therefore in reducing opioid use. But there is no evidence that cannabis may help reduce opioid addiction”, he said.

Using one drug to fight another is a notion that is still under debate since some of the lawmakers are not convinced if that can be possible. Kathy Szeliga, Baltimore County Republican, said that replacing one habit with another may not be a good idea. They feel like it is not a clean and sober approach to treat opioid addiction with marijuana.

According to the bill advocates, the decision will still rest on the doctors even if medical marijuana is proved to be inappropriate in treating opioid addiction. The Baltimore Democrat leading the rewriting of the bill, Del. Sandy Rosenberg, said that, “we thought we should leave it up the doctors”, “we do not legislate medical judgment”, he added.

Opioid abuse is said to have reduced by almost 23% in the United States, the fact that there is no adequate scientific research backing up marijuana’s potency in treating opioid addictions. The decrease in the number of addicts using opioid was estimated in regions where the medical marijuana was legalized in the US. Marijuana is being used by one of Los Angeles rehab to assist weaning off of addicts using strong drugs. The bill advocates greatly support the proposal that Marijuana can help treat patients addicted to opioid in Maryland despite lacking a scientific evidence.

Derrick D. Billingslea is an alcoholism and addictions treatment professional with over two decades in recovery himself and he is the Founder and CEO of HUGS Recovery Centers, located in Atlanta, Georgia.


HUGS Recovery, Inc
By: Derrick D. Billingslea

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