Americans think it’s safer to use marijuana than opioids to relieve pain, but they were less comfortable with children and pregnant women using the drug to treat medical conditions, according to a recent Yahoo/Marist poll. Two-thirds of the respondents in the telephone survey said opioid drugs such as Vicodin or OxyContin are “riskier” to use than marijuana, even when the pain pills are prescribed by a doctor. Only one in five said marijuana was riskier than opioids. The rest weren’t sure.
Every day, an overdose of prescription opioids or heroin kills 91 people, and legions more are brought back from the brink of death. Some 2 million Americans are thought to be hooked on the pills. Last month, President Donald J. Trump appointed an opioid commission to look into the problem. Marijuana by itself is not fatal. Doctors technically don’t prescribe it for pain or other purposes but most states that allow medical marijuana do require patients to get a doctor’s written recommendation to purchase it to treat their conditions.
Among those answering the Yahoo/Marist poll, 83% said the drug should be legal nationally for medical treatment. However, 70% said it is not acceptable for pregnant women to use marijuana to reduce nausea or pain. And the survey respondents were about evenly divided on whether marijuana should be recommended for children if it were legal. The survey respondents were deeply divided on how Trump should approach marijuana: 38% said he shouldn’t be as tough about enforcing federal laws against recreational marijuana use as President Barack Obama, whose policy generally was to leave states alone.
Another 30% said Trump should take a harder line than Obama, while the rest weren’t sure or said Trump should treat it about the same as Obama did. Trump’s administration has sent mixed messages to the 28 states and Washington, D.C., in violation of federal drug law when it comes to marijuana. Trump said as a candidate that states should be allowed to tinker with marijuana laws. However, new U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said marijuana is dangerous and marijuana changes by states should not be allowed. There has been no action yet by the U.S. Justice Department or any other federal agencies to crack down on states violating the Controlled Substances Act, which bans marijuana for any use.