Medical marijuana could ease Wyoming opioid crisis

The biggest controversy over medical marijuana in Wyoming should be why legislators haven’t already legalized it.

Here’s the reason: many of our lawmakers don’t understand the issue. They remain blinded by the rhetoric of long ago when marijuana was thought of as a “gateway drug” as harmful as heroin. Those arguments are still made today by Wyoming legislators who rely on thoroughly outdated propaganda and incorrect information to keep medical marijuana illegal.

Opponents of marijuana use in the 1960s and 1970s maintained that it did not have any medical benefits, but now we know from scores of scientific studies that their claims were wrong. Medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia, improving the lives of patients with a host of diseases and conditions.

But not in the Cowboy State.

Inexplicably the vast majority of Wyoming legislators fail to grasp what is at the heart of the matter — pain relief and how to obtain it without becoming addicted to the opiates that are killing thousands of Americans each year.

We all experience pain. I can’t accept that we allow elected officials — not doctors, pharmacists or researchers mind-you — to dictate how we deal with it. Some argue that it is a morality issue. What’s moral about refusing aid to the suffering?

Others may argue that prohibition is the will of the people. Representatives taking that stance either don’t know, or don’t care, that an October 2016 University of Wyoming poll showed that an overwhelming 81 percent of state residents support the legal use of medical marijuana.

Despite its opposition to medical marijuana, the Legislature did show during the recent budget session that it is concerned about the sweeping opioid epi­demic. Senate President Eli Bebout (R-Riverton) sponsored a bill to create an opioid addiction

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