Weed Doesn’t Cut Down on Opioid Deaths

Imagine having an agenda and using triggered topics to get your way. That’s what the marijuana industry did. They made proclamations that the opioid users would just switch to weed and the problem would be solved. What happened? This:

The rate of deaths from opioid overdose increased by 22.7% on average from 1999 to 2017 in states that had legalized medical marijuana, according to the paper published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

It turns out that people are dying even more. Yup, the same people are just augmenting their narcotic abuse with a little “chronic”.

Nice try. Now try to overturn these laws. Ha.

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  9 comments for “Weed Doesn’t Cut Down on Opioid Deaths

  1. Scribe
    June 25, 2019 at 2:43 pm

    I don’t subscribe to WSJ and thus can’t read the full article. What was the rate of increase in opioid overdose deaths in the states that did not legalize weed in the same time period? Without that information the article is meaningless.

  2. PW
    June 25, 2019 at 7:54 am

    I find it interesting that Ohio has new severely restrictive laws for opioid prescribing, but has medical marijuana vendors controlled by the State. Nice way to increase those coffers?

  3. Michael J. McKenzie, MD
    June 25, 2019 at 7:15 am

    YES, sometimes the advocates for medical cannabis and CBD do sometimes have a tendency to be a little “extra” in terms of medical claims. However, if you would have asked an experienced cannabis clinician like myself, we would have confirmed to you that medical cannabis, when properly applied/dosed, in a state with a well-running program, can be a great tool in terms of harm reduction and getting people off opiates.

    Remember, the DEFINITION of medical cannabis is ANY combination/ratio of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, administered via different delivery methods, the purpose of which is to exert a therapeutic effect. Also remember that all of us humans (as well as any vertebrate with a CNS) have an ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM (the system of endogenous ligands and receptors integrated with our physiology whose task is to maintain the body’s balance).

    Unfortunately, endocannabinoid physiology was NEVER taught in our medical school or residency or fellowship, so docs are playing catch-up now. What we know about the endocannabinoid system was not even discovered until the 1990’s (at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

    Florida has had a working medical cannabis program since the passage of amendment 2 in 2016. We have over 200,000 registered patients in the Florida registry. One advantage of Florida’s program is the availability of consistent fixed products with different ratios of THC and CBD in the form of oils, tinctures, concentrates, and vaporization. Interestingly, smokable flower wasn’t available until around March 2019.

    I, as well as many other clinicians have found that when properly dosed and titrated, patients that were on Opiates and/or Benzos have been able to REDUCE their use of such meds, and in some cases even ELIMINATE their use of Opiates/Benzos. That is not made up, that is not a mirage, that is REALITY. However, the medical leadership in our state never talks to us to get our perspective. If the medical world was he Jackson family, we cannabis clinicians get treated like Tito.

    Here is another interesting tidbit, the CONCEPT of using cannabis to treat opiate dependence is NOT NEW. There is an article from the British medical journal The Lancet titled “The Use of Indian Hemp
    in the Treatment of Chronic Chloral and Chronic Opium Poisoning”. The date of the article is March of 1889.

    The biggest challenge before us is how to we properly weaponize cannabinoids to give patients the best results as opposed to demonizing cannabinoids and perpetuating the 82 y/o lie from the Fed Govt.

    • Pat
      June 25, 2019 at 12:15 pm

      Bravo ?
      I don’t advocate or discourage the herb, but when my osteoarthritis finally starts demanding opioids, I’m damn sure gonna start listening to more reggae first.

      • Michael J. Mckenzie, MD
        June 25, 2019 at 4:30 pm

        @Pat, if you are in a state with a working medical cannabis program and your OA starts to flare up, there is nothing wrong with considering cannabinoids as a treatment option. You can start with pure CBD oil or a tincture that is a 1:1 THC:CBD and titrate to effect. You have a greater chance of dying from being attacked by a pink unicorn than dying from cannabis. One interesting factoid is that there are NO CB1 or CB2 receptors in the brainstem, therefore no matter how much cannabis you consume, there is ZERO risk of respiratory depression (compared to opiates that CAN cause respiratory depression)

    • Shannon Mitchel
      June 26, 2019 at 3:00 pm

      WHY do you believe it is better for someone to take pot than opiates or benzodiazepines?? ALL are drugs??

      • Pat
        June 26, 2019 at 5:39 pm

        In over 2 decades working in ER’s, I have still never seen someone come in because of pot. I’ve seen plenty who were drunk, OD’d on benzos or opiates, withdrawing from the same, or just dead. So there’s that advantage.

      • Michael J. McKenzie, MD
        June 26, 2019 at 11:14 pm

        Because Cannabinoids (I don’t like the perjorative name “POT”) in the right ratio and right delivery method in the right patient can REPLACE opiates and benzos in terms of their therapeutic effect…That is FACT. That is what I see EVERY DAY in my practice. Been certified in Florida since 2015. Pain can be reduced, and Anxiety/insomnia can benefit without the baggage that opiates/benzos carry (addiction/withdrawal/overdose/DEATH) . Remember, there are ZERO CB1 or CB2 receptors in the brainstem, therefore cannabinoids CANNOT cause any respiratory depression (unlike Benzos/Opiates). If you study the HISTORY of cannabis prohibition, the only reason it was banned (including its HARMLESS cousin Industrial Hemp) is because of the financial vested interests of competing industries. Nothing to do with science or public health or harm, as there have been ZERO DEATHS in 5000 years of its use. I cannot say the same about Benzos and Opiates. Thank God for our brothers and sisters in Israel who have been doing groundbreaking clinical research on cannabinoids since the 1960’s and continue on to this day.

        • kurt
          June 27, 2019 at 8:41 pm

          It’s a tool. I’ve seen some it helped nicely and some it didn’t do much for. Mostly it’s helped.
          Me? Once retired and if I get a terminal painful illness, I want me some Bio-Jesus!

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