Is medical marijuana an answer to the opioid crisis? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Is medical marijuana an answer to the opioid crisis?

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With the opioid epidemic still raging, doctors are looking at alternatives to addictive prescriptions for treating chronic pain. Medical marijuana is legal in 29 states, and advocates say legalizing medical cannabis could help curb the nation's drug crisis.

Christine Stenquist suffered through a brain tumor, fibromyalgia, and debilitating headaches -- chronic pain which led to 45 different prescription drugs. "Migraines were just constant so they started me on a lot of pharmaceuticals and that went on for 16 years," Stenquist said.

Between the pain and the opioids, the mother of four was left bedridden. Eventually she decided to give medical marijuana a try. "This is a whole different lifestyle. I'm eating healthier, I'm more active, more alert," she said

Stenquist is one of a growing number of Americans who've traded in their powerful and addictive painkillers for the green alternative. Research in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows in states where medical marijuana is legal, opioid overdose deaths are down as much as 25-percent.

The DEA still warns of a high potential for abuse, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has described marijuana as "only slightly less awful" than heroin. "I reject the idea that America will be a better place if can just have more marijuana," Sessions said.

Doctor Carla Rossotti Vazquez treats pain patients and disagrees. "I've had patients that since they've been using their vaporizers with cannabis they've decreased their use of Ambien, of Clonazepam, of Percocet," Dr. Rossotti Vazquez said.

"Within 6 months I was driving, within 8 months I was figuring out how to pass a law in my state," Stenquist said.

Stenquist knows in her home state of Utah that could be an uphill battle.

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