Pubdate: Sun, 14 Dec 2014
Source: Knoxville News-Sentinel (TN)
Copyright: 2014 The Knoxville News-Sentinel Co.
Author: Phillip Yardley


The last 90 years have been a historical aberration in the 5,000 
years of medical cannabis use. It is tragic to have prohibited such 
use in the same world where pharmaceuticals account for more deaths 
annually than all illicit drugs combined. While pharmaceuticals have 
their place, the numbers show that cannabis can save lives when 
legalized as medicine.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Every 
day in the United States, 113 people die as a result of drug 
overdose, and another 6,748 are treated for the misuse or abuse of 
drugs. Nearly 9 out of 10 poisoning deaths are caused by drugs ... in 
2011, of the 41,340 drug overdose deaths in the United States, 22,810 
(55%) were related to pharmaceuticals." Of those deaths, 74 percent 
were attributed to prescription opiates.

Look at the numbers for Tennessee in 2013: Per the Tennessee 
Department of Health, there were 1,166 reported drug overdose 
fatalities, up 6.5 percent from 2012. With Tennessee having the 
eighth highest drug overdose rate in the U.S., could cannabis 
decrease these numbers? Yes, according to a new study by JAMA 
Internal Medicine.

Researchers in the study determined that the overdose rates were 25 
percent lower in states where medical marijuana use was legal. "In 
absolute terms, states with a medical marijuana law had about 1,700 
fewer opioid painkiller overdose deaths in 2010 than would be 
expected based on trends before the laws were passed," said lead 
author Dr. Marcus Bachhuber.

It's criminal that the federal government maintains that cannabis has 
no medical use through its current placement as a Schedule I drug. 
Besides the proven medicinal use, cannabis has shown to saves lives 
as an alternative in pain management. If legalized here, the 
prescription mortality rate would decrease, too.

Phillip Yardley, Knoxville
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