From Opioids to Marijuana: Out of the Tunnel and into the Fog.
16 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2018 Last revised: 5 Apr 2019
Date Written: September 25, 2018
After more than two decades of escalating morbidity and mortality stemming from the opioid epidemic in the United States, early signs suggest that specific mitigating interventions are taking hold to lessen deleterious public health impacts. Still, treating pain remains the original genesis for considerable opioid uptake in the U.S. A primary alternative to opioidsis emerging: marijuana. Like opioids, marijuana and its varied derivatives have grown exponentially. Even though federal authorities still disapprove the drug for any purpose, 30 states now allow medical marijuana for a range of conditions, including palliative care despite thin proof of efficacy for treating many conditions. Critical issues of public health law and policy arise from the displacement of opioid drugs in favor of medical marijuana. While these two classes of drugs are similarly intended to manage pain, their legality and public health impacts are highly divergent and subject to public misperceptions of their safety and effective use. Promoting marijuana over opioids is risky given substantial uncertainties over short- and long-term impacts of its widespread use. Even as the nation slowly exits the long tunnel of the opioid crises, it may be heading into a fog of extensive, additional public health repercussions.
Keywords: marijuana, opioids, pain, epidemic, treatment, chronic, law, policy
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