Legalize Pot Rally at Union Square New York (Photo Credit: David Skankbone, Creative Commons 2.0)
Marijuana, a psychoactive agent that is derived from the Cannabis plant is best known as a recreational drug. It is known for its mental and physical effects. People who use it recreationally do so for that stoned or high feeling it produces. Marijuana is also known to produce a change in perception, an elevated mood, as well as an increase in appetite.
However, over the last few years, marijuana has found increasing use in the medical field. It is widely used to improve symptoms and treat various diseases. Doctors have been known to prescribe medical marijuana for the treatment of:
- Muscle spasms that are caused by multiple sclerosis
- Weight loss resulting from poor appetite caused by chronic illnesses such as HIV, cancer or nerve pain.
- Nausea resulting from chemotherapy
- Crohn’s disease
Legalizing marijuana in New York
Patients in New York whose doctors have prescribed opioids can now take marijuana instead if they so wish. This is after the enactment of regulations by the State of New York that allowed the use of medical marijuana as a replacement for opioids on July 12.
Although marijuana was previously used medically in New York, many pain disorders did not qualify for treatment using this option. The new regulation allows for the production and possession of medical marijuana as long as it is prescribed by a qualified and certified healthcare practitioner.
The law is aimed at increasing access to medical cannabis. In this way, the state hopes to deal with the rising addiction to opioids. Physicians can prescribe cannabis for painful conditions that aren’t chronic, and those treated using highly addictive medications, including oxycodone and fentanyl.
The fight against opioid addiction
New York is currently suffering under what some would say is an opioid addiction crisis. This is the result of many non-chronic pain conditions being treated using opioids. Over 55,000 Americans die annually from drug overdose. 60% of these deaths are as a result of opioids. The government is spending billions of dollars annually to deal with the problems resulting from addiction to these drugs.
Various clinical studies have shown that patients who use medical cannabis for pain relief are able to eliminate or at least significantly reduce reliance on opioids. In this way, cannabis is considered an exit drug.
New York has since seen penalties reduced for pot possession. The number of arrests related to pot has also fallen. However, it is still early to see results. The true effects of the legalization of marijuana will be seen in the next few years.