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Health director: Alternative pain relief could help curb opioid abuse, deaths; Ryan Hurley, Rose Law Group partner and director of Medical Marijuana Dept. says cannabis an ‘off-ramp’ from addiction

Posted by   /  June 1, 2017  /  No Comments

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Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services /Photo by Gary Grado, Arizona Capitol Times

By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services via Arizona Capitol Times

Faced with an average of two deaths a day, the state’s top health official is looking for ways to curb the abuse of opioids, both legal and otherwise.

And some of that may involve getting doctors to find alternative relief for patients with chronic pain — including possibly recommending the use of medical marijuana.

Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Department of Health Services, said Thursday some of the meteoric rise in deaths — up from 454 in 2012 to 790 last year — can be traced to illegal drug use, people looking for a “high.” That is reflected in a tripling in the number of Arizonans who die from heroin overdose.

But there are more actual deaths from prescription opioids. While Christ said some of these can be people misusing the drugs for recreational purposes, she suspects there are people who have become hooked on them because of chronic pain.

One indication of that, she said, is the pure data.


“It is refreshing to see an Arizona government official acknowledging cannabis can help fight the opioid crisis. Too many of Arizona’s elected officials are stuck dangerously in the past, continuing to make reefer madness claims about how cannabis is a gateway to heroin. To the contrary, the evidence shows cannabis is an off-ramp from addiction”

~ Ryan Hurley

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