Medical Marijuana

Cannabis: Condom of the Opiate Crisis

When the spread of HIV bedeviled researches, practitioners, and public health officials, the evangelical community seized the moment. A community opposed to homosexuality and thereby sex outside of marriage, the solution to the spread of HIV was clear: adopt our beliefs and practices. No sex, no spread of sexually transmitted disease. If only logic applied to the illogical, this simplicity may have made an impact. The philosophy did virtually nothing to stop the spread of new HIV infections. An unmitigated disaster forced America to abandon its puritanical roots and squeamishness for genuine public health policy. The rallying cry become “always use a condom” and to a much lesser degree, “don’t share needles”. The result was a nosedive in the rates of new infections, freeing resources to find solutions for those already infected and saving untold numbers of lives. 

There are differences with the current opiate use crisis, most notably, transmission. Sex or contact with an opiate user doesn’t transmit opiate use but there are also similarities, one of them being we are at a fever pitch of crisis. Dropping bodies is a bad plan, government has been slow to respond and we keep repeating the familiar refrain of “just say no” as the primary weapon in trying to slay this beast. It’s not working, the overdose problem is in fact, getting worse. 

Today, High Sobriety founder, Joe Schrank was slated to speak at the New Mexico State house to share with a committee that cannabis works in helping with opiates use disorder. Cannabis is a harm reduction measure, giving addicted people an option rather than the infinitely logical, total abstinence. The literature on this is clear, accessible cannabis reduces the rates of overdose death. It’s not total abstinence but it does save lives. As a side note, why do we care so much if people are drug users?Just as sexual activity between mutually consenting adults is a private matter, so is drug use. The truth is, there will never be a drug free America but there could be a drug safer America. What needs to change is the belief that imposing morality about drug use an effective public health policy. It wasn’t effective to fight HIV and it’s not effective in fighting addiction. 

New Mexico is positioned to be the first state to do a very smart thing, make opiate dependence a qualifying condition for the state’s medicinal cannabis program. Doing so opens a possibility for many people addled by their current drug use. Well done, New Mexico. The state legislature delivered a bill for Governor Susanna Martinez’s  signature and she balked, moral posturing wins again!. It seems that they will try again. Perhaps the state has learned that abstinence only drug education is about as effective as abstinence only sex education. Cannabis is the condom of the opiate crisis.

Check out this story from today’s Santa Fe New Mexican

Author: Joe Schrank, Editor-in-Chief