A recently-passed law in the state of Illinois is going to give doctors in the state the freedom needed to switch patients from opioid painkillers to medical marijuana, a move the state hopes will help combat the opioid epidemic and thousands of opioid deaths the state has witnessed. Studies have confirmed that states with medical marijuana are witnessed fewer opioid overdoses, so this is a great positive step by the state of Illinois. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discusses this.


In a move that they’re hoping is going to curb the opioid epidemic in their state, Illinois recently passed a law that’s going to allow doctors to switch out opioid prescriptions for patients and replace them with prescriptions for medical marijuana. Now, obviously, medical marijuana is already legal in the state, but what this new legislation is going to do is make it to where those patients who are on opioid pain killers can immediately get a medical marijuana prescription without having to go through any kind of waiting period. They’re not going to have to go through any background check. They’re not going to have to jump through all of the hoops and legalities that everybody else who receives one of those prescriptions would have to go to. Basically, this legislation fast tracks it in order to get these people off of opioids as fast as possible.

This is a phenomenal piece of legislation, and it’s not often that we get to say that about any law passed in this country recently, but this is a good one. We have at least 115 people dying every day in this country, some estimates up to 150 or 170, from opioid overdoses. And we know, based on multiple different studies, that areas that have legal medical marijuana, and even recreational marijuana, have lower rates of opioid prescriptions, opioid overdoses, and opioid deaths.

Medical marijuana does not come with those dangerous side effects like opioids do. And the state of Illinois realize that and said, “We have to do something. We have to look at the available science here and apply that to our lawmaking.” Something too few states and the federal government are willing to do. They looked at the science, they looked at the statistics, they saw what was happening in their streets, and they took action. That’s not something you can say about too many states out there in the United States right now, but Illinois did it.

And they want to make sure that the a little over 2000 deaths from opioid overdoses that they already had in the state, they want to make sure that that number doesn’t climb any higher. They want to make sure that patients, consumers, people on the street are protected, at least from the greed from Purdue, from McKesson, some of these opioid distributors. They want to protect their people from that. These big pharma companies and distributors that lied about the addictiveness of these opioids, created hundreds of thousands of addicts all over this country. One of the best ways to fight back, according to science, is with medical marijuana that can provide the same benefits without offering any of the deadly side effects.

Farron Cousins is the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine and a contributing writer at DeSmogBlog.com. He is the co-host / guest host for Ring of Fire Radio. His writings have appeared on Alternet, Truthout, and The Huffington Post. Farron received his bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of West Florida in 2005 and became a member of American MENSA in 2009. Follow him on Twitter @farronbalanced