Pubdate: Thu, 27 Aug 2015
Source: Minneapolis Star-Tribune (MN)
Copyright: 2015 Star Tribune
Author: Robert J. Capecchi


I applaud Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson, U.S. Attorney 
Andrew Luger and the Star Tribune Editorial Board for highlighting 
the need to address the alarming rates of addiction to and fatal 
overdose of prescription painkillers and heroin ("Minnesota needs 
state strategy to fight pain pill, heroin addiction," Aug. 24, and 
"Pain pill abuses are aired at conference," Aug. 26). While it will 
not be a panacea, emerging data suggest that modifying Minnesota's 
medical cannabis program to allow intractable pain patients to 
legally use medical cannabis can help ("State weighs medical cannabis 
for chronic pain," Aug. 26).

Medical cannabis is far less addictive and much safer for the patient 
than opiate-based painkillers, having resulted in zero fatal 
overdoes. Studies out of the University of California found that 
medical marijuana was effective at treating neuropathic pain, which 
is notoriously unresponsive to commonly prescribed painkillers 
Finally, research published in the Journal of the American Medical 
Association last October suggests that medical cannabis reduces the 
rate of opiate overdoses. Researchers found that states with 
"[m]edical cannabis laws .. [have] ... significantly lower 
state-level opioid overdose mortality rates" than states without 
medical marijuana laws.

The Department of Health should recommend that doctors be allowed to 
treat intractable pain with medical cannabis. Minnesota should not be 
criminalizing pain patients for using a safer treatment option.

ROBERT J. CAPECCHI, Washington, D.C.

The writer is deputy director of state policies at the Marijuana 
Policy Project from the Great Lakes.
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