Pubdate: Thu, 21 Jan 2016
Source: Rockford Register Star (IL)
Copyright: 2016 GateHouse Media, Inc.
Author: Rick Schwartz


As a Certified Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Counselor, I see 
first-hand how the number of drug overdoses from abusing opioid pain 
medications is at epidemic levels.

I believe medical cannabis can help.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2014 
there were a total of 47,055 drug overdose deaths that occurred in 
the U.S., more than any other previous year on record. There has 
never been a documented overdose death from cannabis.

In an October 2014 study in the American Medical Association's 
Journal of Internal Medicine, researchers conclude that medical 
cannabis laws are associated with significantly lower state-level 
opioid overdose rates. States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8 
percent lower average annual overdose rate compared to states without 
medical cannabis laws.

With the growing tide of research proving the pain relief, 
anti-inflammatory and potentially curative effects of cannabis, it 
has become evident that it is not only an effective medicine but also 
a viable alternative to prescription pain medications.

These findings upset the applecart of conventional wisdom regarding 
the public health implications of medical cannabis and its medicinal 
usefulness. The Medical Cannabis Pilot Program puts Illinois on the 
right path to reduce overdoses and deaths from the mismanagement of 
opioids. However, we still have a long way to go. Patients need 
access to this treatment in order for it to help. I ask the Rauner 
administration to help reverse this terrible epidemic by making 
medical cannabis more accessible for patients in Illinois. It's time 
to do more.

- - Rick Schwartz, Lincolnwood
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom