Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of stories on medical cannabis and how its legalization will impact Pennsylvanians.
PITTSBURGH — As the opioid epidemic continues to decimate communities here at home and across the country, experts at the first-ever World Medical Cannabis Conference and Expo in Pittsburgh recently looked at what role medical marijuana can play in helping to bring it to an end.
The hour-long Opioids to Cannabis panel looked at recent statistics showing states that have regulated medical cannabis markets see a decrease not only in opioid related overdoses, but the total number sold as well. The panel discussed the relevant research available and future treatment opportunities.
Included in the discussion were Dr. Matthew Roman, founder of Nature’s Way Medicine, based in Wilmington, Del.; Dr. Thomas Whitten, a pain management specialist based in Greensburg, Pa.; Kevin Boehnke, a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arbor; Kirk Reid, founder of Captain Kirk’s Edibles, and Nate Jackson, a cannabis user and a former NFL tight end, who played most of his career with the Denver Broncos. Dr. Bryan Doner, a practicing emergency physician and CEO and co-founder of Compassionate Certification Centers, a medical marijuana marketing and consulting company, moderated the discussion.
Recent studies into medical cannabis have found a link between states that legalized medical marijuana and a decreased number of prescriptions for pain killers. According to the Centers for Disease Control, since 1999 opioid deaths have quadrupled and opioid abuse has been estimated to cost over $72 billion in medical costs alone.