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Maine Rep. Russell Proposes Medical Marijuana for Opiate Addiction

Maine state Rep. Diane Russell offered an innovative solution to deal with opiate addiction to a state Legislative Council yesterday: access to medical cannabis.

It’s a concept with real merit. Several studies have shown that patients decrease their opiate medications when they have the option of medical marijuana.

A landmark study led by Marcus A. Bachhuber, M.D., of the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center found that in states with robust medical marijuana programs had a 25 percent lower rate of opiate overdose deaths.

While many states allow for chronic pain and pain conditions to qualify for medical marijuana this is the first official proposal to allow those diagnosed with addition to access to the plant.

The Maine Legislative Council rejected the proposal for now. But supporters are likely to try again.

A longtime marijuana reform advocate, Rep. Russell has filed bills to fully legalize cannabis in the Pine Tree State and has been helping with a ballot initiative to achieve that goal. Russell has appeared at cannabis events, including speaking on stage at the annual Boston Freedom Rally.

Russell is running for state Senate is a hotly contested race. She’s been delivering speeches at rally events for Bernie Sanders and was named «The Most Valuable State Representative» in the The Nation‘s 2011 Progressive Honor Roll.