I am a social work student at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Public health issues are extremely relevant issues in the field of social work. This letter serves to express my opinion in relation to current public health issues, as well as present possible solutions.
Recently, President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency. There are policies for prescription drug monitoring and greater access to substance abuse treatment, but are these policies really effective if more than half of the opioid overdoses occur in patients who have a legitimate prescription for these drugs? What if there was something else that doctors could prescribe for treatment instead of opiates? Well, there is.
Medical marijuana can be used to treat illnesses such as chronic pain, seizures, anxiety, and depression. Pain is the number one reason for being prescribed an opiate. Medical marijuana has the potential to provide the same relief of nerve pain and muscle spasms, while producing less side effects and a lower risk of addiction.
According to a study published in 2014 by the Journal of the American Medical Association, states with medical marijuana laws had a nearly 25 percent lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states that did not have laws that legalized medical marijuana. That percentage is a tremendous piece of evidence that sheds light on the public health benefits of medical marijuana.
All in all, I believe it is imperative for our state government to consider this research and reevaluate drug laws in Wisconsin.