Battista: Marijuana Use Could Help End Opiate Epidemic

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As a primary care and addiction medicine physician, I never thought I’d be suggesting marijuana use to my patients, given its unknown potential for physical, emotional, social and developmental harm. However, the opiate overdose epidemic has radically shifted my thinking.

The June 26 Sun-News editorial about legalizing cannabis for tax revenue missed a critical benefit: the possibility of fewer overdose deaths.

Since prescription pain pill overdoses exceed those of both heroin and cocaine combined, at about 40 daily (and over 14,000 yearly), this is no small point. Gun homicides and car crashes kill fewer. The crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s killed 800 to 2,400 yearly, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Colorado and Washington state have seen overdose deaths decline since voters approved recreational cannabis. It has been suggested this may be due to self-treatment of physical and mental distress by users with a substance less deadly than opiate...

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