American political leaders around the country are searching for a policy response to the widespread abuse of opioid painkillers.
But progressives don’t want to replicate the mistakes of the war-on-drugs’ punitive approaches to drug use and addiction.
Now, Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) is using her influence and popularity to push for a solution that both underscores and addresses the injustices of the war on drugs over the past several decades.
Senator Warren is urging the Center for Disease Control to consider the role that legal medical cannabis could play in addressing the crisis of painkiller overdoses and addiction in the United States.
Warren is asking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to research how medical and recreational marijuana might help alleviate the opioid epidemic.
In a letter sent Monday to CDC head Dr. Thomas Friedan, Warren pushed for the agency to finalize its guidance to physicians on the dos and don’ts of prescribing oxycodone, fentanyl, and other popular drugs in this category.
Going one step further, Warren told Friedan “to explore every opportunity and tool available to work with states and other federal agencies on ways to tackle the opioid epidemic and collect information about alternative pain relief options.”
Those alternatives should include pot, Warren wrote.
She went on the ask Friedan to collaborate with other federal health agencies to investigate how medical marijuana is or isn’t working to reduce reliance on highly addictive prescription pills.
Warren also wants the CDC to research “the impact of the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana on opioid overdose deaths.”
The use of prescription opioids doubled between 2000 and 2014, according to the CDC. And Massachusetts, Warren’s home state, experienced its highest number of unintentional opioid overdose deaths in 2014, with nearly 1,100 people succumbing to overdose deaths.
Warren, considered a progressive hero, offered only a flat “no” in response to a question about legalizing marijuana in 2011.
She hasn’t embraced a full-on end to prohibition yet, but Monday’s letter to the CDC is just the latest in a string of such actions she’s taken to push executive agencies to investigate pot’s potential to do good.
(Photo Courtesy of Popularresistance)