On the morning of February 6th, I went to the Rhode Island Department of Health at 3 Capitol Hill to attend a public hearing of the petition to add Opioids dependency as a qualifying condition to the Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Program. I learned that Opioid overdose is now the leading cause of all deaths in the United States. From the graph, we can clearly see that opioid overdose deaths in Rhode Island have increased significantly.
The purpose of this petition is to “offer effective alternative treatment options and to reduce the number of opioid deaths by 25% or more”. People signed up to speak up in front of everyone to share their experience related to opioids and why this petition would be beneficial to all the people across the United States. Most importantly, this hearing is to make sure as many people as possible to hear about the truths, but not the misinformation online. Patients and veterans who suffer from using opioids, members of organizations that deal with opioid-related problems, director of medication that holds events to correct the false information. Each one of them brought their own testimonies to share their opinions and experience related to opioids. Majority of them advocate in strong favor of this petition. The veteran, who was the first one speaking up, taught me a lot about the side effects of using opioids as pain-killer after surgeries. He personally witnessed thousands of people suffering from chronical pain which is even more painful than Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, causing a myriad of them going to prison or committing suicide. He strongly believed that people should reduce the use of opioids as medication.
The director of medication on one of the authentic organizations stated that a large number of people in the United States have no idea that opioids are so much more addictive than marijuana. It has been proven that Medical marijuana could reduce opioid use in older adults. There is a study that reveals about 65% of older adults who use medical marijuana “significantly reduce their chronic pain and dependence on opioid painkillers”. Knowing this would be so much more helpful for people who still depend on opioid painkillers.
One of the doctor from a prestigious group focusing on treating opioids dependency and chronic pain conferred that people face degradations on health and functional capability with intolerable side effects: the medical evidence shows that such pain will last three months or more depends on the physical condition of each person. It is perfectly clear that the condition and symptoms are associated with a severe debilitating or life-threatening condition, not limited to wasting syndrome, chronic pain, opioid use disorder, and more.
Of course according to the Heidi Henkel’s article on psychiatric drugs’ long-term effects on the brain, body, and functioning, the results show that taking psychiatric drugs in long term negatively affects in “all measure of quality of life, cognitive functioning, relapse rates, employment rates”, compared to the same kinds of patients without taking drugs. People with only very severe physical problems should be able to take psychiatric drugs. Specific mental health modalities will be perfect substitutes for these drugs. One of the examples of mental health modalities is Open Dialogue in Finland, which is safer and more effective than taking drugs. It successfully eliminates the existence of forced medication. It tends to reduce reliance on drugs. Although, if needed, the regulatory amendments are necessary to allow registered practitioners to issue the medical use of marijuana as an alternative to prescription opioid.
People who oppose this petition are simply misled by false information online. The first amendment does help with the transparency of government and the transmission of knowledge, but it also frees people putting wrong information and false narratives throughout the internet. If people were to research more and do not trust everything put up online, they should be able to judge what is right for them and for the physical, social, and economic welfare of everyone in the country.