With America caught in the throes of the opioid epidemic, researchers and drugmakers alike continue to suggest that the answer lies in marijuana-based painkillers. In fact, a number of studies also hint that medical cannabis might be the magic bullet everyone is looking for.
Not so fast, some key experts said at the Forbes Healthcare Summit. Dr. Tom Frieden, the former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) under President Obama, leveled sharp criticism at the idea of marijuana replacing opioids as viable painkillers. Frieden, who now spearheads the non-profit Resolve to Save Lives—a $225 million, five-year global health campaign—was quick to say medical marijuana won’t end the crisis.
“The huge problem with legalization is that in the current legal context of the U.S., if you legalize a product you cannot restrict its market, and what we’re looking at is the prospect of having Big Tobacco paralleled by Big Marijuana actively promoting marijuana use,” Frieden said. “It could be very harmful for some people and some communities. That said, there may be a role for some individuals, and