(Natural News) Like many other American states, Illinois is battling a crippling opioid epidemic. Official statistics from the state’s Department of Public Health indicate that opioid overdoses were responsible for close to 1,200 deaths there in 2016. And the problem is escalating at an alarming rate. The number of narcotic overdoses increased a whopping 82 percent between 2013 and 2016.
The use of medical marijuana was legalized in Illinois in 2013. However, bureaucratic red tape has made it difficult for patients with one of the 40 qualifying medical conditions – which include AIDS and cancer – to legally obtain marijuana for medical purposes. In fact, only 42,000 patients have been approved to join the program since its inception. In stark contrast, over 5 million opioids were handed to 2.3 million patients in the state in 2017 alone.
Fortunately, after several studies provided “substantial evidence” that marijuana is a potent painkiller while being a safer option than opioid medications, a new program – known as the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program – was recently launched in Illinois, providing far easier access to medical marijuana for patients addicted to opioids, and giving them new hope of breaking free from opioid addiction. (Related: America’s opioid epidemic is killing so many people that medical examiners can’t keep up with the body count.)
Easier access to medical marijuana
As reported by WQAD 8, the program will allow patients with prescriptions issued by certified physicians who are licensed within the state to have access to medical marijuana. Other restrictions usually attached to its use have also been significantly loosened for those addicted to opioids.
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Waking Times reported:
Under the program, anyone qualifying for a prescription for common opioids like Vicodin, OxyContin, or Percocet will be authorized to use cannabis, be it in its dry herbal form or in its myriad derivatives such as waxes, oils, or medicated food products.
The measure removes a number of burdens related to the state’s medical marijuana program, including requirements that applicants must be fingerprinted and have their criminal backgrounds screened.
Patients will be required to receive an Illinois Cannabis Tracking System certification from their doctors, upon which they can register online for a 90-day medical cannabis license that costs $10 and allows access to a maximum of 2.5 ounces every two weeks.
A “vicious epidemic”
Back in August 2018, when Governor Bruce Rauner first signed the bill into law, he called addiction to opioids – and overdoses resulting from such addiction – a “vicious epidemic.” He expressed the hope that the new program would present a credible alternative to opioid addiction – one that could treat pain effectively while being less addictive and destructive than opioid medications.
Sadly, this “vicious epidemic” has been entirely man-made, the result of the uncontrolled greed of the pharmaceutical industry. (Related: Opioid epidemic reaches whole new crisis level as Big Pharma drugs out America for profit.)
Waking Times reported:
[C]ourt filings from a major lawsuit by the Massachusetts attorney general against Purdue Pharma, the company responsible for making the OxyContin narcotic pill, reveal how Big Pharma executives deliberately misled doctors and patients about the dangerous and addictive nature of the opioid in hopes of maximizing company profits.
Until such time as government takes dramatic steps to curb the sale of opioid drugs – and the greed that fuels their manufacture – it is unlikely that there will be a significant reduction in the number of victims dying from opioid overdoses each year.
In the meantime, the best we can hope for is that programs like Illinois’ Opioid Alternative Program will provide those caught in the trap of opioid addiction with new hope of breaking free from its deadly grip. Learn more about the fight against the opioid epidemic at Opioids.news.