Colorado, US (Pontiac) – The passing of Senate Bill 74 passes allows around $500,000 to fuel opioid programs yearly. According to the Denver Channel, the necessary legislative bill has been signed by Colorado’s governor John Hickenlooper.
Similar retraining initiatives were also recently announced by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) in Albuquerque. Thus, Senate Bill 74 continues a migration away from law enforcement, and towards treatment as the solution to this epidemic.
Colorado’s opioid issue’s, although dispersed throughout the state, concentrate in its southern region. Bill 74 references a staggering increase of overdoses in the state. From 2000-2015, the annual overdose rate doubled, the bill notes.
Southern Colorado, despite having just 6% of it’s population, contributes 18% of hospital visits for heroin overdose. Northern drug overdoses, however, increased by some 600% from 2014-2016. In the southern region, anti-overdose drugs like Narcon prevented an estimated 140 overdoses in 2015. Despite this, the crisis continues expounding at an alarming pace. There simply aren’t enough doctors available who’re trained specifically for overdose prevention.
All hands need to be on deck, from nursing colleges to local law enforcement. CU College of Nursing, Denver Channel reports, is taking part in establishing a board to oversee these new treatment programs.
It’s also recommended that medical professionals from counties hit hardest serve as board members. Their experience will prove to be invaluable. Where does the money come from to establish this apparatus you ask? Well, Colorado’s copious cannabis sales.
Officials emphasize, however, the importance of tracking cannabis profit transfers into opioid treatment pilots. Annual reports documenting changes, initiatives, and other essential data are needed. No waste is acceptable, and money not used during one fiscal year will be utilized in the next.
According to Denver Channel, tangible progress in these programs is expected by January 2018 at the latest. Besides sluggish bureaucracy, Coloradans are eager to hit the ground running. Every day spent debating these initiatives equates to a slightly higher body count than the one before.
If nothing else, this demonstrates the flexible usefulness of cannabis legalization. Not only does the plant itself have many healing properties, but so does its economic footprint. It didn’t take long post-legalization for Colorado to generate excess profits. This eventually kick-started debate of what to do with it, redistribution to residents or otherwise. Since then, cannabis sales have shown to have a very positive effect on healthcare costs.
According to Colorado Statesman, a study conducted on 9 legalized states saw prescription numbers drop. These included anti-depressants, anti-anxiety med’s, and painkillers–some of which contribute to the opioid crisis. For painkillers, numbers dipped by 11% on average.
“Our findings”, wrote the authors of the University of Georgia study, “suggest that patients and physicians in the community are reacting to the availability of medical marijuana as if it were medicine.” One which apparently treats the human body, and socio-economic consequences on the body’s health. In Colorado, researches suggest medicare savings could reach $14 million yearly.
Another study found that opioid patients who used medical cannabis cut down on their dosage. Of course, if you’re taking less then you’re less likely to overdose. Subsequently, it’s also less likely you’ll become addicted to the point of graduating to street narcotics.
As always, however, researchers stress the need for more concrete cannabis science as well as increased patient-doctor oversight. That goes for both the controversial plant, and opioids prescribed by doctors. The medical cannabis industry appears to still be battling residual stigma, and suspicion wrought by prohibition. Nevertheless, opioid overdoses nationwide are forcing officials to find where solutions like cannabis fit in.
This article was prepared by Isiah Homes for The Pontiac Tribune.