A Plea for Tennessee

I grew up in East TN and have friends and family across the state that could drastically benefit from the re-legalization of cannabis. I have watched as many of my dearest childhood friends have become addicted to pharmaceuticals and then turned to harder drugs when the prescriptions ran out. I have comforted family members as they have watched their flesh and blood battle unthinkable conditions, ailments, and diseases. I have read obituaries of friends and loved ones whose lives were lost that quite possibly could still be here today if they only could have turned to a safe natural plant.

The What Ifs That Shouldn’t Be

I often ask myself, what if? What if cannabis were legal? Could it have helped like it has so many others in compassionate states? What if they had a natural alternative to turn to from the beginning for pain relief rather than pharmaceuticals compounded in a lab? What if they could have utilized cannabis to combat cancer rather than chemotherapy which is known to have horrendous side effects? Would they still be with us today?

These are questions that many fathers, mothers, grandparents and even children have laid awake at night wondering. These are questions that shouldn’t have to be asked. I along with thousands, possibly millions of others truly believe that cannabis can help not only the opioid epidemic that is plaguing our nation but our reliance on chemical-based pharmaceuticals. We’re not alone in these “assumptions” any longer thanks to the hardcore facts that have been proven by states and countries that have legalized cannabis for medical and/or recreational consumption.

Opioids Are Wreaking Havoc on Our Country and Cannabis Could Help

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2014,  there were nearly 2 million Americans either addicted to or abusing opioid-based pharmaceuticals. That same year nearly 21,000 people died from said addiction or abuse with almost 1,300 of them being Tennesseans. That’s right over 6% of all opioid overdose deaths were in TN.

So, could cannabis help this situation in the state of TN and in places around the world? Well according to a study in JAMA Internal Medicine researchers “found that the annual rate of deaths due to overdose on an opioid painkiller was nearly 25% lower in states that permitted medical marijuana.”

Theoretically, this means that if cannabis was legalized across the United States that 5,250 lives could be saved if not more! That’s incredible if you ask me, especially considering the fact that noone and I mean noone in all of history has ever died from consuming cannabis.

Cancer is Another Plague Cannabis Could Help Combat

Cancer of many forms plague people across the nation and around the world. In TN there is an average of 4,412 individuals that lose their life to cancer each year under the age of 50. There have been numerous different studies that have proven cannabis’ ability to inhibit the growth of certain types of tumors and its ability to kill off cancerous cells while leaving healthy cells to thrive. There are also thousands of firsthand accounts of people utilizing cannabis to combat cancer and cannabis kicking cancers ass!

So, let’s imagine for a minute that cannabis could cure cancer in 25% of these individuals. This would mean that roughly 1,100 more lives could be saved each year in TN alone. Nationwide this outcome could save over 50,000 lives annually and that’s just Americans under the age of 50.

Meth is the Name and the Volunteer State Seems to be Playing the Game

According to Mic.com “Indiana, Tennessee, and Missouri have the highest rates of (meth) lab incidents.” The same article also notes that the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that “approximately 1.2 million people (0.4% of the population) reported using methamphetamine in the past year alone, and 440,000 (0.2%) reported using it in the past month.”  The worst part was that the average age of new meth users was just 19-20 years old.

Could cannabis help change these numbers and save even more lives? It’s definitely more likely to help than to do any harm, that’s for sure and according to some reports, it very well could help those addicted to meth and other hard illicit drugs such as cocaine and even alcohol fight their addictions successfully.

Don’t Criticize It! Legalize It!

Cancer, opiate addiction, and methamphetamines are not the only things that Tennesseans face that cannabis shows potential in helping. Earlier this year, 2 brave state representatives did what was right and stood up for their constituents by introducing the Medical Cannabis Act of 2017, which aimed to legalize medical cannabis for a number of different conditions in the state of Tennessee.

Unfortunately, as I have previously reported, this bill was met with fear and outright ignorance by other state leaders. Meanwhile, people are fighting for their lives and many are losing them while these politicians could seem to care less. It’s time for a change Tennessee. A change from orange jumpsuits. A change from laying our friends and family to rest. Recognizing the truth about cannabis and legalizing it for medical purposes could do just that.

Article courtesy of Expert Contributor: AshleyP from CannaLance (CannaLance.com, @CannaLance, @MJWriter87)

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