National NORML Board Member Paul Kuhn is a Fellow Tennessean
Paul Kuhn, a long time national board member as well as a former chair on the national board of directors of NORML, works tirelessly for common sense cannabis law reform here in Tennessee.
His cannabis activism includes regularly writing educational letters on the subject to legislators and news agencies, and the following is an excerpt from a recent letter to an editor for the Tennessean newspaper.
Mr Kuhn explains why medical cannabis should be utilized as a tool to combat Tennessee’s opioid epidemic, and why he thinks editors and legislators are scared to discuss medical cannabis in this context.
To combat the opioid overdose crises, a prominent researcher on the subject put it foursquare: “Only one thing works: establishing medical marijuana dispensaries.”
States that permit legal access to cannabis consistently experience reduced rates of opioid usage and abuse, as well as deaths by overdose. For example, the esteemed Journal of the American Medical Association for Internal Medicine reported that passage of medical marijuana legalization laws is associated with a 20 percent drop in overdose deaths in the first year, then a 25 percent the second year, and a 30 percent drop in the third and subsequent years.
Researchers at the RAND Corporation similarly determined in 2015, “States permitting medical marijuana dispensaries experience a relative decrease in both opioid addictions and opioid overdose deaths compared to states that do not.”
This makes sense because FDA-approved, double-blind, placebo controlled studies show cannabis is a safe and effective treatment for pain, a point of view endorsed in January by the prestigious National Academies of Medicine. Investigators at the Academies, including Dr. Sachin Patel from Vanderbilt University, found “conclusive evidence” non-addictive and non-lethal marijuana works for pain.
This leads one to question why establishing a medical marijuana program in Tennessee is never mentioned in The Tenneseean’s extensive series on opioids?
Or, for that matter, why medical cannabis is never mentioned by Speaker of the House Beth Harwell’s Opioid Task Force?
Is it because it’s “marijuana”, a substance demonized for so long (since 1937 and Reefer madness) that news editors and legislators can’t find it within themselves to acknowledge cannabis has proven medicinal value?
Happily, the citizens of our great state are not so blinded to the benefits of non toxic medical cannabis, and are much more open minded about it than their politicians and news agencies are.
Seventy-five percent of Tennessee citizens now support a medical cannabis program. They are interested in replacing the unregulated, untaxed black market with a legal and taxed market that brings jobs and industry to our state. One that better serves the needs and increases the safety of all Tennesseans, as well as increasing our tax revenue.