Debate rages around medical marijuana and opiate abuse

The debate rages on around the use of medical marijuana to curb opiate abuse in Tennessee. As the debate continues, lawmakers are considering whether or not they should introduce a bill that would allow the use of medical marijuana. A former assistant district attorney hopes that legalizing the drug will lead to fewer fatal overdoses in Tennessee.

"States that have legalized medical marijuana have seen on average a 25 percent decrease in opioid abuse and death rates, and that's huge. We're not seeing that anywhere supply is being focused on," a former District 13 assistant district attorney said.

The RAND Drug Policy Research Center also conducted a study in 2015 that found states that had medical marijuana dispensaries had a decrease in opioid addiction and deaths.

The death rate due to drug overdoses in Tennessee rose steadily from 2010 to 2015. Lawmakers attempted to get a handle on the epidemic by limiting the over-prescription of painkillers.

The Appalachian High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area team in Tennessee believes a three-pronged approach of education, prevention and treatment will work best in curbing the high overdose death rate in the state. The group uses a film created jointly by the FBI and DEA called "Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict." The group hopes it can educate students on the dangers of opiate addiction. Some of the addicts profiled in the film died during production.

Other sides of the argument in Tennessee believe that a more medical approach to treatment, specifically maintenance therapy, is necessary to reduce the death rate from overdoses. Medication-based therapy is provided by methadone and buprenorphine clinics throughout the state. A methadone clinic helps addicts survive without their drug of choice for a period of 24-36 hours by suppressing the withdrawal symptoms.

Drug addiction affects millions of people annually and the epidemic continues to grow when it comes to painkillers and heroin. An experienced products liability attorney can advise you of your rights in a dangerous drugs case in Nashville, Tennessee.

Source: WBIR, "Experts debate whether medical marijuana can help curb opiate abuse," Grant Robinson, Feb. 03, 2017

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