While current Attorney General Jeff Sessions plans to enforce federal laws against marijuana, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says it is a Waste Of Time. Gonzales stated that the limited powers of the Justice Department should be put to better uses. But as the Trump administration seeks out ways to roll back any progress made in the Obama era, Sessions seems prepared to go to war with states that think they are above federal law.

Opioid use for chronic pain and overdose death decreases with medical marijuana

Although Donald Trump states that his administration is looking for a non-addictive alternative to opioids in order to curb the overdose epidemic, marijuana is not yet being considered.

Trump put together the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, headed by current New Jersey governor Chris Christie. However, although several studies have shown that states that have legalized medical marijuana have 25-33% fewer opioid overdose deaths, use of marijuana was not included in the commission's recommendations.

In 2016, Health Affairs Journal published a study which concluded that between 2010 and 2013, in states that legalized medical marijuana, Medicare patients needed fewer prescriptions for pain medication. A more recent study in 2017 at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine found that in animal subjects, cannabis seemed to reduce symptoms of opioid withdrawal and minimize opioid-seeking behavior.

Also this year, a report at the University of Michigan, published in Journal of Pain, reported medical marijuana users cutting their opioid use for chronic pain more than in half. And a study in Israel found that 44% of people using medical cannabis for chronic pain were able to stop taking opioids within seven months. The state of Colorado found that even after legalizing marijuana for recreation use in 2014, the rate of opioid overdose deaths dropped by 6.5%.

Unfortunately, due to federal law, further research in America is severely limited.

Trump administration adheres to Nixon-era classification

Although 29 states have legalized marijuana for medicinal uses, the federal government still classifies it as a Schedule 1 drug. Marijuana gained that classification by Richard Nixon, under the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, when he officially started the War on Drugs.

Although the commission he put together to study the plant recommended decriminalizing marijuana, Nixon ignored the recommendations and put it in the same class as heroin.

The Schedule 1 classification posits that marijuana has no currently accepted medical use. Yet this is in spite of 29 states comprised of more than 60% of the U.S. population that use it as medical treatment for glaucoma, seizure disorders, anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, nausea, cancer treatments, AIDS/HIV, PTSD, chronic pain, and more.

The Trump administration and opponents to medical marijuana fear that marijuana is a “gateway drug” that has a high potential for abuse and can lead to harder drugs. However, a report by the National Academy of Sciences, released earlier this year, found that it was more of a gateway to greater health than to other drugs.

More often than not, alcohol and nicotine are more often named as gateway drugs than marijuana.

Christie cited the National Institute on Drug Abuse in his report to the president's commission, stating that marijuana use increased the chances of a person becoming an opioid abuser by 2½ times. Nevertheless, the same organization concluded that 80% of heroin users misused prescription drugs first, making pharmaceuticals a much greater risk. Although the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis reports that 175 Americans die every day from a drug overdose, there have been no reports of anyone dying from a marijuana overdose, even in states that have legalized its recreational use.

Although Trump himself has been largely silent on marijuana, those in his administration seem adamant about keeping Americans from the freedom to use it.