Maine and Oregon Reject Petition to Use Marijuana to Treat Addiction

Because a nonlethal alternative creates controversy?

Both Maine and Oregon have rejected petitions to utilize marijuana as a viable drug addiction treatment. The decision goes contrary to a recent study's findings that legalized medical marijuana has been saving states money and reducing state and medicare expenditure in medical marijuana jurisdictions by reducing dependance on a preference for prescription drugs, including highly addictive opioids.


“Investigators estimated that prescription drug savings would total more than $468 million annually were cannabis therapy to be accessible in all 50 states”

The proposal to use marijuana treatment for addiction is particularly on point in Maine where an ongoing opioid addiction crisis has government and medical minds scrambling for treatment options. The state currently uses methadone as a harm-reduction opioid substitute, despite methadone's highly addictive characteristics. Medical professionals in other states view marijuana as a less harmful alternative treatment that has been correlated with success.

Dr. Harold Altvater, from Massachusetts, where marijuana diversion is a state-approved method to treat lethal drug addictions, has seen positive results in cannabis treatment: “You are basically taking something that can be very harmful for an individual, and substituting it with another chemical, just like you would any other drug, that has a wider safety margin,” he told the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence. “So if the goal is to decrease the body count … the goal would be to get them on to a chemical that was safer.” 

It's worth noting once again that the number of fatal marijuana overdoses is holding steady at zero.

For now, though Maine's petition was denied, Dawson Julia, the marijuana caregiver who proposed addiction as a qualifying condition says he is determined to continue fighting for a cannabis-treatment method. Don't expect proponents in Oregon and elsewhere to give up any time soon either.