Article by Will Greenberg, Mother Jones
With less than a month to go before Election Day, several state level marijuana legalization campaigns have rolled out messaging that pitches weed as an alternative to deadly opioid painkillers.
This week, groups backing recreational legalization in Arizona and Massachusetts launched ads arguing marijuana should be an option for pain patients. Arizona’s Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol campaign ran its ad during Thursday night’s NFL game, featuring former pro quarterback Jim McMahon, whose career included a stint with the Arizona Cardinals, talking about the painkillers he was prescribed for injuries.
“I was using them daily pretty much the rest of my career,” he says in the ad. “It takes its toll.”
Framing marijuana as an alternative medical treatment is of course not a new argument for pot proponents, but the strength and prominence of the country’s opioid epidemic has given marijuana activists a new chance to argue that cannabis offers a safe, overdose free option to fight pain.
Legalization activists are pointing to recent studies to make their case. One paper that came out last month found that states with medical marijuana saw fewer suspects in fatal traffic accidents test positive for opioids. And earlier this year,researchers at the University of Michigan found chronic pain patients who used medical marijuana were able to reduce their use of opioid drugs by 64 percent.