White House rejects medical marijuana as opioid alternative

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In a move that brought scathing condemnation from a Florida Republican congressman, the White House’s commission on the opioid epidemic has rejected calls to support medical marijuana as an alternative for pain patients.

The commission “specifically declined to endorse the use of marijuana for pain,” The Washington Post reported.

In addition, the commission’s chair, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, drew parallels between the opioid epidemic and the growing popularity of medical cannabis, a statement that U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-FL, called “outrageous.”

Positive endorsements likely would have led to increased interest in medical marijuana and, possibly, sales around the nation.

According to The Cannabist, Gaetz harshly condemned the MMJ views of the notoriously anti-marijuana Christie, saying, “it is shortsighted, it is inaccurate, and it is indefensible to suggest that the proliferation of medical cannabis – that is saving lives and improving the quality of life for people – somehow is analogous to the plague of the opioid crisis.”

Gaetz also said that “the federal government has lied to the American people for a generation about cannabis in asserting that it has no medical value.”

He was speaking at an event put on by the American Legion, which is a major supporter of medical cannabis and of increasing access to MMJ for military veterans.

Gaetz’s comments are noteworthy in that marijuana reform for years has been more of an issue championed by Democrats, but Republicans are increasingly joining the cause.