Legislators Seek to Allow Research of Medical Marijuana as Alternative to Opioids

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File image from California State University.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawai‘i-02) and a bipartisan coalition of 20 members of Congress called on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to consider medical marijuana as a pain management alternative to opioids.

In a letter to Acting Secretary of HHS Eric D. Hargan, the lawmakers pushed for research on the use, uptake and effectiveness of medical marijuana as a pain management substitute for opioids, as well as additional details on the department’s ongoing information sharing and related efforts to the opioid crisis with state governments and federal agencies.

“As the opioid epidemic continues to ravage communities across the country, we must pursue every available path to prevent, treat and ultimately end America’s reliance on these highly addictive drugs,” said Congresswoman Gabbard. “In Hawai‘i alone, hospitalizations, emergency room visits and opioid-related deaths have doubled over the last decade. Studies have found a correlation in states that have legalized medical marijuana with a drop in addiction rates and opioid abuse deaths, some by over 20%. With 91 lives lost every single day to the opioid epidemic, Acting Secretary Hargan should immediately authorize additional research into medical marijuana as an alternative treatment to urgently address this opioid crisis.”


Congresswoman Gabbard has cosponsored legislation like the STOP OD Act (H.R.664) to help state and local governments raise awareness of the dangers of opioids like fentanyl, oxycodone and heroin, expand educational efforts to prevent opiate abuse, and promote treatment and prevention. She also voted to pass a series of bipartisan measures in the 114th Congress to address some of the widespread problems that have caused and perpetuated the national opioid crisis, including the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (S.524) signed into law in July 2016, and has continued to call for drug companies perpetuating the crisis to be held accountable.

Rep. Gabbard is the lead Democratic co-sponsor of H.R.1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, which would take marijuana off the federal controlled substances list, as part of her commitment to common sense criminal justice reform.


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