As a prominent Chicago surgeon, Dr. Charles Bush-Joseph sees them all too frequently: people who endure severe injuries or multiple surgeries, only to become addicted to prescription painkillers.
One patient who pleaded for help was on such strong drugs already that Bush-Joseph knew he couldn’t handle more surgery without dangerously high levels of opioids.
But nine months later, the patient returned and told the doctor he’d replaced those powerful pain pills with another drug — marijuana. And after seeing the deadly damage opioids can do, Bush-Joseph said such cases have shown him that cannabis can be a safer alternative.
“There’s a large group of patients who have chronic pain who rely on opioids,” Bush-Joseph said. “Those are the patients who would benefit from medical cannabis.
Illinois’ medical community has been somewhat reluctant to publicly embrace medical marijuana in the two years since the state’s first dispensaries opened.
But some physicians say the matter has taken on added urgency as the nation sinks deeper into an opioid crisis involving both prescription drugs, and heroin and its synthetic analogs. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports there are 40 prescription opioid deaths a day, Illinois health officials have warned it’s the most dangerous public health issue facing the state and President Donald Trump has declared opioid addiction a public health emergency. [Read more at Chicago Tribune]