Last night during the State of the Union, President Obama cited areas where Democrats and Republicans may be able to work together, including criminal justice reform and prescription drug abuse.  Prescription drug overdoses, which now kill 44 people each day, have turned into an epidemic on a national scale.

Obama’s speech to a Republican-controlled Congress to work out a bi-partisan approach to prescription drug abuse demonstrates a sense of urgency that our politicians at the federal level need to do more to address this issue.

Cannabis on the other-hand, widely considered much safer than opioids, is still a Class I substance under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) and federally illegal.  However, there is scientific evidence that cannabis has benefits for treating certain instances of:

  • Neuropathic pain
  • Glaucoma
  • MS spasticity and central pain
  • Chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting

In many cases cannabis, or yet-to-be-developed cannabinoid-based pharmaceuticals, could potentially be a safer alternative than opioids.

While I applaud President Obama’s stance on prescription drug abuse, I think it is time that this administration also take a stance on the benefits of cannabis by supporting the declassification of cannabis from the CSA and allowing individuals States to implement there own state-legal cannabis laws without concern of federal law conflict.  Such a step would not only provide some much needed clarity for non-medical cannabis businesses (such as industrial hemp), but would also accelerate the progress of cannabis medical studies and the development of treatments – treatments that could prove to be be safer alternatives to current opioid applications.