Politicians Don't Understand How Cannabis Can Help Address The Opioid Epidemic

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

I was disappointed to read a statement in a recent news story where Tennessee State Senator / Lt. Governor Randy McNally was quoted as saying he was unaware of any scientific evidence that cannabis was potentially helpful in terms of addressing the opioid overdose epidemic. 

I had previously met with Mr. McNally and had provided him with copies of just this type of published research.  

In a recent update to a web page on cannabis’s medical uses, the National Institute on Drug Abuse “found an association between medical marijuana legalization and a reduction in overdose deaths from opioid pain relievers, an effect that strengthened in each year following the implementation of legislation.” 

A second federally-funded study “showed that legally protected access to medical marijuana dispensaries is associated with lower levels of opioid prescribing, lower self-report of non-medical prescription opioid use, lower treatment admissions for prescription opioid use disorders and reduction in prescription opioid overdose deaths.” Further, the latter study demonstrated that “the reduction in deaths was present only in states with active dispensaries (not just medical marijuana laws). 

Two systematic review articles evaluating the use of cannabis and cannabinoid compounds for the treatment of non-cancer chronic pain were published in 2011 and 2015.  Together, they found that 22 of 29 high quality randomized, controlled clinical trials demonstrated safe and effective treatment outcomes with cannabis. 

A Quinnipiac poll released in April showed that 94 percent of the U.S. public support medical marijuana. 

Persons who oppose tightly regulated dispensing of cannabis for specific conditions often argue that the risk to public health outweighs any possible benefit. A review of the evidence accumulated from states that have provided a medical cannabis option for their citizens to date has not supported this concern. 

Hopefully the upcoming Tennessee legislative task force on this topic will shed light on the issue and result in progress during the next legislative session.   However, I fear that no progress will be made unless additional public pressure is brought to bear on our elected officials.  

Matthew Hine, M.D., M.P.H. 




Elizabeth Baker Has Been Fighting For Us

My fellow Republicans of District 2, I have good news for you. We have a citizen who has been working for us at local and state levels to protect our county assets (fighting the Gardenhire bill), to ensure our children have opportunities of public education  (fighting for the rights of the students on Waldens Ridge to not be excluded from their county school in Signal Mountain ... (click for more)

Fortunate To Have Greg Martin

The residences of the third district in Hamilton are fortunate to have had Greg Martin as our county commissioner since 2016.  Greg Martin served District 3 as the representative on the Hamilton County School Board from March of 2012 to November of 2016. Greg and his family have attended the schools in third district of Hamilton County and Martin’s wife, Sheila, is a teacher ... (click for more)

Juvenile Girl Shot On Doolittle Street Early Sunday Morning

A juvenile girl was shot early Sunday morning on Doolittle Street. Chattanooga Police responded at approximately 12:55 a.m. on to a person shot on the 2500 block of Doolittle Street.   Police were able to make contact with the victim at a local hospital where she was suffering from a critical, but non-life threatening gunshot wound. The victim was transported to a ... (click for more)

A Jury For 2nd Time Convicts Randall Reed Of Murdering 70-Year-Old Woman In 2011

A jury for the second time has convicted Randall Reed of first-degree murder in the 2011 death of 70-year-old Jane Stokes in East Ridge. The verdict was returned in the courtroom of Judge Tom Greenholtz’s on Friday. The earlier verdict had been thrown out by an appeals court. Reed testified in his own behalf. The victim was murdered in her home during a robbery in 2011. ... (click for more)

Mongar Succeeds Massey As Lady Owls Softball Coach

In an absolute twist of fate, Kerilyn Mongar has taken over the Ooltewah High School girls’ softball program following the resignation of Jon Massey shortly after the 2018 state tournament. Massey has since been named boys’ baseball coach at Silverdale Baptist Academy and Mongar, who coached at East Ridge for three years, now has the task of continuing the Lady Owls’ highly ... (click for more)

UTC Wrestling Coach Heath Eslinger Resigns

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Mark Wharton announced the resignation of wrestling head coach Heath Eslinger today.  Eslinger, who spent nine seasons as head coach of his alma mater, informed Wharton of his decision this morning.  "It was always my hope that Heath Eslinger spend the rest of his career leading our wrestling ... (click for more)