Cannabis can save us

© 2018-The Weston Democrat

“Marijuana is a gateway drug,” proclaims a pro-cannabis advocate and cancer survivor, who credits the plant with saving his life. Rusty Williams, a long-time proponent of cannabis legislation in WV, indicates that cannabis is a gateway to improved public health and a sustainable economy.
There are many reasons for growing support of hemp and cannabis industries: cannabis shows a multitude of medical benefits, can diminish the opioid epidemic, and can be a boon to economic growth.
Many people with a variety of health problems experience relief for illnesses and symptoms that are not well-managed by traditional methods.
There are a multitude of surprising health benefits to cannabis. Numerous studies show that cannabis helps alleviate chronic pain, especially for people suffering from multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and migraines. Cannabis improves function in people with ADHD, OCD, epilepsy, depression, and PTSD.
The drug assists cancer patients in alleviating pain and debilitating side-effects from chemotherapy and radiation. Ongoing studies show that chemicals in cannabis actually kill or shrink certain cancer cells. Cannabis can stop the progression of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, treat glaucoma, and help regulate insulin production levels for people with diabetes. Cannabis even acts as a natural cure for erectile dysfunction and improves libido in both men and women.
Groundbreaking studies since legalization and acceptance of cannabis as a valid form of medicine prove that the health benefits of cannabis are wide-ranging and cannot be ignored.
Legalization of cannabis will potentially alleviate the drug epidemic that is gripping WV and the nation.
Recent articles published in the Journal of American Medicine report that opioid-related overdose deaths decreased by 25 percent in states that have legalized cannabis, and that the number of opioid prescriptions also decreased in those states. According to Dr. Dustin Sulak, “adding cannabis to opioids makes the opioids safer. Cannabis can prevent opioid tolerance…and the need for dose escalation.
Cannabis can treat the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Cannabis is safer than other options for people that are addicted or dependent on opioids.”
Last week, Theresa Poling, MSN, FNP-BS, published an article in the Record Delta describing the current state of the opioid crisis in WV, stating that 872 overdose deaths occurred in 2017, and more than 30,000 people receive drug treatment.
In WV’s last legislative session, a bill to further expand cannabis utilization died before reaching Governor Justice, who was prepared to sign it into law. In a state that leads the nation in opioid drug overdoses, a new way to tackle the drug problem is a necessity, and medical cannabis can provide the way forward.
Profits from a robust cannabis industry can solve the devastating economic crisis in WV. Providing steady, sustainable jobs in a state with high unemployment rates will benefit WV’s citizens struggling to find work.
Taxing sales of cannabis will provide an economic windfall for the state. Added income from taxes could provide much needed funding for the state’s struggling education system, as well as financing state public workers’ pensions and retirement plans, supplementing state programs such as Medicaid, and constructing or repairing roads, bridges and buildings.
Colorado received $200 million in revenue from regulated cannabis sales in 2017. A fraction of that income will go a long way in fixing WV’s economic issues. Viewing cannabis as a resource that can be used to provide relief to a struggling economy could bring WV out of its financial hole.  
The image of the pot-smoking hippie in the history of marijuana consumption is far from the truth today. The majority of Americans support legalization of cannabis. Cannabis represents a gateway to a better future for West Virginia. It is an opportunity to move forward by being a leader in the industry, rather than falling behind other states that have worked to legalize cannabis the right way.
For more information, a pro-cannabis rally is planned for April 21, 2018 at 11:00 AM in Buckhannon’s Jawbone Park. Learning more about how cannabis can benefit WV is essential in moving forward rather than back. Public perspective regarding this amazing plant is evolving, and WV can strive to evolve as well. It is apparent that cannabis can save us.

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