The CDC reports that in 2015, drug overdoses took the lives of 52,404 people in the U.S. Out of those 52,404 deaths, more than 33,000 involved the use of opioids. Since opioids are frequently prescribed for the treatment of long-lasting (chronic) pain, these sobering figures have resulted in the medical community’s desire to find alternative medications for treating this ongoing problem; however, it seems one alternative is quickly gaining popularity, medical marijuana. While there are positives associated with medical cannabis for chronic pain, we must also consider the negatives.
Medicinal Cannabis for Pain Management
A study published in the journal Health Affairs finds that people are not using medicinal marijuana as a means to get high, but instead as a way to treat their chronic pain. An individual may experience chronic pain as a symptom of an underlying disease like multiple sclerosis or due to a chronic pain disorder like myofascial pain syndrome, or fibromyalgia.
According to data attained from the CDC’s 2016 National Health Interview Survey, a little more than 20 percent of Americans (approximately 50 million people), are dealing with some form of chronic pain. This information was highlighted in a report released by the CDC in 2018. The number of people in the U.S. suffering from chronic pain and seeking some form of relief has only hastened the opioid epidemic. Unfortunately, even those who receive their opioid pain medication from a treating physician can fall prey to addiction.
Studies Determine Medical Marijuana is Helpful for Treating Chronic Pain
Numerous observational studies have determined that medical marijuana is effective in the treatment of chronic pain. Medical cannabis offers fewer side effects than traditional pain medication: Many of the patients participating in medical marijuana observational studies said that it is the possibility of fewer side effects that led to their desire to substitute cannabis for traditional medications. While there are positives to using medical marijuana instead of opioids for the treatment of chronic pain, there are still some potential downsides that must be considered.
Some potential downsides of using medical cannabis for treating chronic pain include:
- An increase in the odds of an individual developing schizophrenia.
- If smoked regularly, the patient may experience more frequent occurrences of bronchitis.
- When the patient drives following treatment with medical cannabis, the likelihood of the individual being involved in a car accident increases.
- The odds of the patient experiencing depression increase with medical marijuana use.
- An increase in the chance that a child will unintentionally overdose on medical marijuana. This tragic circumstance has occurred in states where marijuana use is already legal.
- Marijuana has a tendency to raise the heart rate.
- Senior patients who have balance issues are at risk of becoming dizzy and falling.
- Marijuana has been known to raise or lower blood pressure.
- Smoking marijuana during pregnancy is linked to lower birth weight babies.
Second Amendment Rights at Risk for Those Using Medical Cannabis
Another major concern for individuals around the country suffering from chronic pain is whether they will have to give up their Second Amendment rights in order to use medical marijuana. Currently, a gun enthusiast who admits to using medical cannabis in a state where it is legal is not permitted to purchase a gun. This issue is garnering attention as the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is becoming more acceptable in the red states across the nation.
People who want to limit or eliminate the use of opioids for chronic pain by switching to marijuana are in a predicament. They can avoid getting a medical marijuana card and purchase their marijuana elsewhere, and then lie about using it to ensure they keep their right to bear arms. Their other option is to get the medical marijuana card and give up their Second Amendment rights.
Federal Lawsuit Shining Light on Medical Marijuana and the Right to Bear Arms
The ‘state-legal’ medical marijuana users who are veterans, love to hunt, collect guns or own guns for self-defense purposes are stuck in a Catch-22. For this reason, cannabis advocacy groups are keeping an eye on a federal lawsuit that was brought by Matthew Roman. Mr. Roman is a medical cannabis physician as well as a cardholder in the state of Pennsylvania. Medical marijuana has been legal in Pennsylvania since 2016, finally becoming available to cardholders in 2018.
Mr. Roman claims that his Second Amendment rights were violated as he tried to purchase a gun in April 2018. He was at a Philadelphia-area gun store and was denied his right to purchase a gun because he checked the box on the form admitting he was a medical marijuana user and cardholder. The ATF has not budged on their stance related to medical marijuana.
Jan Kemp, Spokesperson for the ATF
Despite the state-legal cannabis surge, during an interview with Cannabis Wire, Jan Kemp, who is the ATF spokesperson, stated: “Cannabis remains federally classified as among the most dangerous forms of narcotics, Schedule I, and is banned under the Controlled Substances Act.” In addition, Kemp stated that despite the additional states legalizing cannabis, she knew of no plans to reevaluate the agencies 2011 position. “As far as I know, as long as it’s listed as a controlled substance, then the laws are the laws,” she said.
Whether you have been injured on-the-job or you are dealing with chronic pain from a car accident, at Patch & FitzGerald, we put your needs first. If you think you have a case, contact us today at 603-647-2600 or click here to schedule your complimentary case evaluation.