The Connecticut Hospice

The Connecticut Hospice’s MMJ Trials to Replace Opiates

By Brittany Morgan Williams

Marijuana has often been lauded as a more positive alternative to opioids in the marijuana world. But there weren’t any clinical trials in the medical world to prove its positive uses due to many reasons: its categorization as a Schedule 1 drug, finding the correct weed plants and having to apply for a license from the DEA. Until now. At Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, Connecticut, they started a research program in reaction to the opioid epidemic. Opioids may result in severe addiction, and even death, a disease racing through the USA, just because someone is healing from a traumatic event and doesn’t want to deal with pain. Weed does much the same thing, but without the dependency or deaths.         

This study took two years to meet DEA requirements and then get approved. These structures include keeping the marijuana securely locked up so it can’t be used on the streets (since there’s none currently on the streets…). It parallels the use of marijuana as a pain reliever versus oxycodone. Doctors and medical professionals are so desperate to stop this drug epidemic that they bankrolled this $30,000 to $50,000 study. The study will include patients with minor injuries who will choose between being treated with opiates or marijuana for two months of the study.

Dr. James Feeney hopes that marijuana may help end the heavy dependence doctors have on it for their patients. He says that “You really don’t have a lot of options. You have opiates…Yeah, there are [alternatives]. They’re not good.” He points out that marijuana use may help treat severe pain, chronic pain, is less addictive, and can help one get through an opioid addiction.  He supports marijuana as a hopeful alternative to drugs that can leave one worse off than when they came into the hospital. Over 30,000 people died in 2015 from various opioid drugs, including heroin, fentanyl, and oxycodone, which is more than twice of the deaths in 2014.

According to many patients and their doctors, opioid painkillers are the true gateway drug to harder drugs, not marijuana.

Feeney is also quoted as saying, “Anybody that takes even a cursory look at the medical literature understands that this could be used to replace opiate pain medication.” Finally, the USA is figuring out that marijuana isn’t a harmful medicine and is being able to use it without fear.

I’ve been criticized for my weed use before. As a person hit by a drunk driver with massive amounts of titanium running through her body, I’ve been prescribed (and subsequently became addicted) to codeine and fentanyl after my car crash. The only way I escaped that dangerous world was moving to Humboldt and discovering the positives of weed (something I had been strongly against since I was a small child) and incorporating it into my life. When I used to be criticized by others, I would ask them how many pills they pop every morning. But now I realize that it’s an addiction, I’ve curbed my comments, as I hope others will as well.