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Vermont Governor Expands Medical Marijuana Access

A few weeks ago, Vermont’s Governor Peter Shumlin signed a law giving doctors the right to prescribe medical marijuana for those in chronic pain. Shumlin is hoping to use this to fight the prescription painkiller epidemic, which is causing both addiction and overdose deaths. But getting people to switch from opioids to marijuana might not be as easy as it sounds.

Why?

  • We’ve all read a lot about marijuana helping to handle pain. Some have said that just three puffs of marijuana a day can relieve severe pain. Having been in very severe pain myself, and having used marijuana decades ago – for recreation, not pain – I can say that it would be virtually impossible to make much of a dent in severe or even moderate pain by smoking grass, especially only three puffs. If it was very strong – or mixed with some other chemical – it might distract you for a bit, but that’s about it.However, much of today’s marijuana has been bred to contain a lot more THC than it did decades ago. Some sources say marijuana used to contain between .3 and to 4 percent, others say it used to be 10 percent (and even still is with some marijuana), while other plants currently contain up to 25 percent.

    It’s not really possible to compare the potency these days to that of some years ago because you have to measure several part of the plant simultaneously to get a good reading, which isn’t how it was done in the 60s and 70s.

    So whether or not marijuana will have the same effect for pain relief as hydrocodone, for example, is kind of up in the air.

  • Another factor  is that according to an assay reported in Forbes Magazine last year, the amount of cannabinoids (CBD), which has a therapeutic effect, is lower than it used to be and is being bred out. Will  the medical marijuana be effective without the CBD?
  • But the switch to marijuana that’s most concerning is not knowing how many people it’s going to work for without them going through a prescription drug rehab program. Getting off prescription painkillers can be very difficult since they are physically addictive, and I think there are a lot of people who are going to have trouble simply going from one to the other. If that’s the case, a lot of prescription drug rehab resources are going to have to be provided for Shumlin to reach his goals of getting rid of the scourge of prescription painkiller.

Does anyone know of anyone who’s had experience trying to do that and what those experiences have been? If so, we’d like to hear them.

We’re going to be looking into it in the meantime and will report back to you.

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