The on-going debate on medical marijuana is still a sensitive topic to discuss, however; more people continue to use it to treat certain ailments. In America, more states are allowing the use of medical marijuana to treat patients, but now doctors are fighting for marijuana to be used to combat the opioid epidemic as well.
In Maine, the records of deaths due to an opioid addiction is the highest in the United States. Maine is also one of the various states that allow the use of medicinal marijuana to treat patients suffering from certain diseases. Some doctors from Maine have seen that by using marijuana, their patients were also able to fight their addictions to the painkiller.
The Opioid Epidemic
Opioids are painkillers that produce morphine-like effects. According to a report from the CDC, about 63,600 deaths in America was caused by a drug overdose. Of those deaths, a majority of them were caused by an opioid addiction. In 2016, 42,429 drug overdoses were attributed to opioids.
Dr. Dustin Sulak, who is a doctor of orthopedic medicine, stated to CNN that he believes the use of cannabis is what is needed to solve the opioid crisis. Sulak owns two outpatient facilities in Maine where he treated patients with marijuana to help them wean off of opioids. Sulak's patients would combine marijuana with their dosages of opioids, which would lessen their desire for more opioids that would have resulted in an overdose.
While Sulak has stated that marijuana can not cure the addiction to opioid, if it used properly, it can "take a bite out of it".
Fifty-one-year-old Angie Sinker, who is now one of Sulak's patients, use to take narcotics, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety drugs to help cope with the pain she endured from a car accident almost two decades ago.
After Sinker gained a considerable amount of weight, she decided to stop using the medications. Her condition, however, worsened, which led her son to suggest that she try cannabis. The pain Sinker felt subsided and she was able to live her life again. Since marijuana is illegal in her home state of Indiana, she decided to move to Maine. Sinker has accredited Sulak and the treatment she uses now as to what saved her life.
"I want people to know that they have options. Do not be afraid to tell your doctor that you do not want these chemicals in your body," she stated.
Another patient of Dr. Sulak, Doug Campbell, also stated that he didn't think he would be alive today if he didn't try the cannabis treatment. Campbell said that he fell off the roof and fractured his lower back at the age of 18 and became addicted to opioids when he began using them. Campbell continued that he went to rehabilitation for his addiction 32 times and finally decided to stop using the drug.
Since using marijuana, Campbell stated that he has no "desire" for opioids any longer.