Opioid prescriptions down

Jack Belcher, Senior News Reporter

A new study released by JAMA Internal Medicine has found that there may be a possible link between the legalization of marijuana and a decrease in opioid addiction.

Opioids have been a huge problem in America for the last couple of years, with 115 people dying from an overdose every day according to the CDC (Center For Disease Control and Prevention).

Brittany Choyce, owner of the Green Shelf, an Ellensburg dispensary, opened her store for this exact reason.

Choyce has personally lost people close to her from opioid overdose.

“He ran out of his medications and bought some on the street, and overdosed and died,” Choyce said.

Choyce believes that if they had marijuana available then her boyfriend could have used it to manage his pain and work his way off the opioids. According to Choyce, he had major back problems and had discs in his back that were leaking fluid. During this time he was under the care of a doctor.

Choyce said that the state they were in at the time had not legalized weed, which made it hard to get and hard to find the correct kind. Choyce said that every day, people come in looking for a way to get off their opioids.

According to Doug Fulp, assistant director of wellness at CWU, opioids are used as pain medication because they block the pain receptors in their brains from receiving the pain signals.

“What can be risky with that is that if they continue on with this for a while, it blocks all the pain receptors. Not just the really bad ones,” Fulp said, “At some point you can then become overly sensitized to pain when you don’t have that opioid, or that pain receptor [becomes] blocked. That’s where people can get hooked on them, because they don’t want to feel any pain.”

Fulp believes that there is some evidence that marijuana could help lower the amount of opioids that are prescribed. He believes that people could be turning to marijuana to help with consistent chronic pain, because it be better than taking lots of opioid pills.