CANNABIS CORNER: PROFESSIONAL INSIGHT INTO COLORADO’S MARIJUANA INDUSTRY

by DR. RMJ (I’m not really a doctor, though I play one in this column)

Hello Dr. R.: I have been experiencing a lot of back pain recently and my current physician wants to put me on a pain relieving medication called Percocet. I have also heard that marijauna can be effective in the treatment of pain. What’s the deal here?

Dear Gain Less Pain: Percocet is a narcotic that is essentially synthetic heroine. Percocet contains oxycodone, which is an opioid painkiller that is highly addictive, and acetaminophen, another analgesic medication which is very dangerous. Even at fairly low doses, Percocet can cause permanent liver damage as a result of acetaminophen toxicity. According to the CDC almost 15,000 people die from prescription drug overdoses every year in the US, which is more than heroine and cocaine combined. A recent research project at the University of Colorado’s Spine Center looked at 200 patients suffering from back pain. Of the participants that consumed marijuana, 89% said “it greatly or moderately relieved their pain,” and 81% said “it worked as well as or better than narcotic painkillers.” The human body contains endocannibinoid receptors that can be bound with the cannabinoids in marijuana that can reduce pain or anxiety. Since it is virtually impossible to overdose on marijuana and because studies have shown it effective in the treatment of pain it can be a safer treatment than prescription drugs.

Yo Dr. R.: I am curious who is in charge of creating, regulating and enforcing the laws associated with legal marijuana, surely you guys aren’t just running amok? Also, I am interested in working in the marijuana field. How to I go about getting a job in the marijuana industry?

Dear Curious in Colorado: In Colorado there is a separate division of the Department of Revenue referred to as the Marijuana Enforcement Division or MED. The MED is tasked with creating laws, issuing business licenses, enforcing compliance mandates and conducting background investigations. Also, all dispensaries are required to be compliant with an online inventory tracking system called METRC. At the beginning of 2014 the state was budgeted for 25 criminal investigators and six to eight compliance investigators to monitor both recreational and medical sales in Colorado. In order to work in the cannabis industry, Colorado law requires that you obtain your support badge. More information can be found at www.colorado.gov. Once you have obtained your support badge you can apply online at www.organicalternatives.com.

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