While the inner workings of the federal government are struggling to unearth an effective method for controlling the nation’s opioid epidemic, Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon says it has overlooked the simplest solution – medical marijuana.
On Wednesday, Blumenauer testified before the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Committee, urging his colleagues to give some serious consideration to evidence that shows how cannabis medicine may be able to help reduce the need for prescription painkillers.
“I appreciate the focus on the opioid crisis that grips every community, to some degree, and affects every state. Especially critical for our veterans, who are twice as likely to die of accidental overdose,” he said. “As we’re slowly acknowledging the depths of the opioid crisis, which is good, we seldom acknowledge one of the simplest, most effective solutions: medical marijuana, cannabis. Now available in 28 states, largely driven by the voters, not the politicians.”
Prior to his testimony, Blumenauer distributed a one-sheet entitled “Physician Guide to Cannabis-Assisted Opioid Reduction,” which outlines some of the latest data showing how cannabis can reduce opioid consumption and prevent overdose deaths.
“Mr. Chairman, we don’t talk much about this, although repeatedly on the floor over the last three years, Congress has been moving in this direction, and voted, last Congress to have the Veteran’s Administration be able to work with veterans in states where medical marijuana is legal,” he said.
The federal lawmaker, who is part of the highly publicized Congressional Cannabis Caucus, then called attention a piece of legislation currently lingering in the U.S. House of Representatives intended to provide more opportunities for cannabis research.
“There’s one piece of legislation that I’ve introduced with Dr. Andy Harris, someone who doesn’t agree with me about the efficacy of medical marijuana, but he strongly agrees with me that there’s no longer any reason for the federal government to interfere with research to be able to prove it,” Blumenauer said.
“The federal government has a stranglehold on this research,” the lawmaker continued. “We have bipartisan legislation, which would break that stranglehold and be able to have robust research to resolve these questions so there would no longer be any doubt.”
Blumenauer said he “hoped” the committee would take the time to review the evidence.
“This is the cheapest, most effective way to stop the crisis,” he said. “Where people have access to medical marijuana, there are fewer overdoses, and people opt for it daily with chronic pain. I would appreciate the subcommittee looking at this issue as your time permits.”