If there is one thing that both President Donald Trump and marijuana advocates agree on, it’s that the United States is in the grip of a deadly opioid crisis. Trump created a commission to make recommendations on how to combat the opioids epidemic. An Oregon company came up with a plan of its own to help.
Opioids Or Free Cannabis?
Kaya Holdings Inc. announced this month they will work with state officials and law enforcement agencies on a program to allow those with an opioid prescription to swap it for cannabis. Free cannabis. No charge for the swap.
“We decided to step up and do our part after President Trump announced the war on the opioid epidemic,” the company’s CEO, Craig Frank, said in a news release.
The country remains in the middle of a terrible crisis involving opioid overdoses. More than 15,000 Americans died from opioid overdose in 2015 alone, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.
Kaya Holdings Inc., based in Lebanon, Oregon, sells and distributes both medical and recreational cannabis products through various subsidiaries. They include the Kaya Shack chain of dispensaries.
In 2014, the company became the first publicly traded medical marijuana dispensary in the country.
In the news release, Frank pointed to many studies about opioid use in states where marijuana is legal. In some cases, the number of deaths from opioid overdose has dropped by 25 percent, he said.
He said the company’s idea for the opioid swap program is part of its dedication to “help people in the communities we serve, as well as demonstrate that cannabis companies can be part of the president’s solution to the crisis.”
Cannabis For Opioids
Called Kaya Cares, the program would allow those dependent on opioids to enter a Cannabis-For-Opioids swap program. They would be allowed the chance to explore whether marijuana can provide them with the pain management they need without the danger of opioid addiction or overdose.
Many others have called for exploration of marijuana as a medicine for pain management. They include former NBA and NFL players, like Joe Montana. Celebrities such as Olivia Newton-John and Dr. Oz also have advocated the use of medical marijuana.
The War On Opioids
In the news release, Kaya noted that the opioid crisis has done more than take lives. It also has devastated families left behind, hurt the economy with lowered productivity and increased healthcare costs.
But unlike other marijuana advocates that have fought against a suspected (although not yet official) stance against legal marijuana from the Trump Administration, Kaya officials said they wish to work with the administration.
“We wish to heed President Trump’s call to create constructive, private sector based initiatives with high probabilities of success,” Kaya senior advisor W. David Jones said. “We believe a program like Kaya Cares and other initiatives to be undertaken will help transition people away from dangerous opioids, making the government’s war on opioids a little more successful.”
Whether Oregon officials will work with such a program remains to be seen, as does the reaction from the Trump Administration.