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HERNANDO AND CITRUS COUNTY

Opiates are the problem… Marijuana is the solution

by Keith B Stolte, MD

Stolte Eye Center

If you have learned anything about me in my series of articles in this wonderful publication, you know that my New Jersey heritage is strong, and I don’t have a problem speaking my mind.  This article will be no different.

Last week, the Florida Department of Health sent a notice out to all physicians, which basically said we need to review ordering of opiates that there is an Opiate Crisis in America.  The notice stated that “there were nearly 200 million controlled substance prescriptions written in 2016 in Florida.  There were 36,718 physicians.”  Doing the math, that would equate to over 5,000 prescriptions written by every doctor.  Not all doctors order opiates.  Ophthalmologists, including myself, usually don’t.  That is not in our scope of practice.  So, when you take out the physicians that don’t order opiates, that 5,000 prescriptions per physician goes up exponentially.  Quite honestly, doctors caused this epidemic.  I am witness to the solution-- marijuana.

Many of my 300 plus marijuana patients have come into my practice saying “Doc, I can’t continue to take the opiates.  They are killing me.”  It is true.  They probably are.  They were never meant to be a long-term solution.  The rule of thumb is that, if you take opiates for 14 days, your body is most likely addicted by that point.  Marijuana is not addictive.  It is not a gateway drug.  No one has ever died from marijuana.  In the time, it takes me to write this short article, many folks will die from opiates.

I have marijuana patients who are no longer taking opiates.  I have marijuana patients who no longer need their morphine pumps.  This is the solution, but it is too politically-charged to be promoted in the media as such.  Can you imagine Lester Holt coming on NBC nightly news stating, “The solution for the opiate addiction problem is marijuana?”  You think we have turmoil and strife in the US now?  Imagine that headline and the resulting protest.  How unfortunate that a God-given plant must take a back seat to a pharmaceutical company’s synthetic drug. Don’t kid yourself.  It is all about money.

My favorite feel good story this month is from a patient I will call Ashley.  Ashley is 16 and suffers terribly from chronic anxiety.  Her anxiety is so bad that her parents considered homeschooling her for her last two years of high school.  Through the summer, she has been on a CBD product.  Remember CBD does not make you high.  It is still marijuana, but the THC level is very low.  Ashley’s mom called last week to state that even though Ashley has only been in school a few weeks, she can tell it is going to be a wonderful year.  She is signing up for clubs and is enjoying her friends and all of the fun that high school offers.  I am so glad her parents sought help.  Can you imagine missing these years?  You can’t get them back.

Stay healthy!

Keith Stolte, MD

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