Illinois lawmakers have decided that medical marijuana should be made available to anyone with an opioid prescription, but the bill now awaits a signature from the governor. Several other states across the country are turning to medical marijuana in this time of an opioid epidemic that is causing tens of thousands of people to die every year. Illinois medical marijuana program isn't as large as many had expected with only 38,000 patients, compared to the 5 million opioid prescriptions filled last year. Lawmakers hope that by expanding the medical marijuana program they can help people stop abusing addictive and deadly opioids. While some are concerned about substituting one substance for another, many have acknowledged the high death toll from opioids every year, to the literal non-existent death toll associated with marijuana.
“Opioids and heroin is killing scores of people. No one has died from overdose of cannabis,” said Harmon, who agrees more research on marijuana is needed. But he said the drug’s Schedule 1 classification, which means it’s considered highly addictive and has no medical use,presents challenges to scientists.