SADOW: Data Show Louisiana’s Medical Marijuana Adventure Is A Mistake

Maybe this dose of reality finally will stop Louisiana from its headlong dash to marijuana legalization under the guise of the herb’s medical use.

Ever since legal changes began in 2015 that have culminated in making its use legal for any imaginable malady in any form you like, a narrative has circulated, largely unchallenged outside of spaces other than this one, that it conveys more benefits than costs. As such, that impetus continues to expand its use even further with this legislative session seeing proposed changes to counteract supply constraints – after all, if you all but legalize it, more people will demand it under the prevailing illusion – through increasing more production and distribution points.

This despite a long history of scant evidence that cannabis use produces positive outcomes for any but a small number of medical ailments. Plus, it carries a number of negative outcomes. And this momentum otherwise has resulted in other bills cropping up calling for decriminalization of marijuana possession, even as research continues to demonstrate harmful effects from its use.

But now, a couple of recently released studies reinforce that great care should come with application of medial marijuana, and suggest that Louisiana already has gone way too far in propagating it. One of these discovered that its use is associated with higher opioid mortality, and the other not only can cause serious harm but also that, despite claims to the contrary, it usually failed to improve symptoms of pain, anxiety, and depression even when the cannabis use was prescribed (“recommended” under Louisiana law) by a licensed physician.

As with the other publication, this one also punctured the common wisdom, often supported by other research, that since weed isn’t a gateway drug it isn’t really that detrimental. This comes as a result of recent refinement in understanding about its effects in, termed “cannabis use disorder,” that it can become an addiction but even if it doesn’t many users suffer significant negative impacts. The real insidiousness, therefore, of medical marijuana is it induces people into its use who otherwise don’t have the usual heightened risk profile, under the illusion that it adequately treats symptoms of a number of afflictions (in fact, these particular researchers who went into the study hoping they could quantify ameliorative effects ended up finding none except for insomnia, for which a number of medical interventions of less drastic nature already exist).

Thus, if anything, Louisiana’s extreme loosening of these laws has made it easier to turn its people into abusers without any real overall benefit in almost every case. And, given the established link with opioid use, this exacerbates a problem which plagues Louisiana that ranks in the top five states of prescription rates – and this was of 2018, when medical marijuana still was fairly circumscribed in its legal use.

Stop the madness. No bill that has the potential to expand ganja use, whether in medical form, should pass out of the Legislature, which instead should focus on rolling back the unwise loosening it has performed over the last few years.

 

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