A rock and a hard place
For one stressful and educational year, I was both the director of an emergency room and the medical director of the county's EMS service. In the emergency room, we implemented some opioid prescribing guidelines to try to decrease the number of narcotic prescriptions that were originating from our department. Contrary to popular belief, only a small percentage of narcotic prescriptions come from ERs, but as the physicians who see the dangers of narcotic overdose daily, we easily agreed that fewer narcotics was always for the best. We saw the number of opioid prescriptions decrease and felt like we were doing our part in helping with the worsening epidemic of opioid abuse and dependency.
However, on the EMS side of things I began to see steady increases in heroin overdoses in the community. With less pharmaceutical grade opioids circulating, we were pushing opioid dependent patients to use heroin or face the debilitating symptoms of withdrawal. Like many communities across the US, the problem was worsened by heroin laced with potent synthetic opioids and people were overdosing even when using amounts of heroin they were used to.
Once the problem of opioid dependency is created, it is extraordinarily difficult to solve. As a doctor, treating pain is a responsibility and a privilege, but currently there are no legal pain medicines shown to be safe for daily long term use. Over the counter pain medicines kill thousands of Americans a year and prescription narcotics kill 46 Americans a day, according to the CDC.
Cannabis, however, is different. Research proves that it is effective and safe for pain. This is something that humans have known for thousands of years. States that have implemented medical marijuana programs have 25% fewer opioid deaths. Emerging research about CBD:THC ratios and terpene-specific effects creates the possibility of using different strains of cannabis to target specific pathologies and pain syndromes. The pharmaceutical companies do not currently offer a safe way to treat chronic pain the way that cannabis can. The caveat to this, of course, is that no medicine is capable of replacing the benefits of meditation, exercise, food choice, and community. It may, however, potentiate the development of these supportive pillars of wellness.
Ohio has crafted their medical marijuana laws in way that allows physicians to use cannabis to it's best effect. The growing and testing standards are rigorous and well thought out. Stillwater medicine is now accepting patient's and ready to help you determine if and how cannabis can benefit you.