Numerous studies have shown that legal marijuana access is associated with reduced opioid overdose rates.
Research published this month, for example, concluded that “legally protected and operating medical marijuana dispensaries reduce opioid-related harms,” suggesting that “some individuals may be substituting towards marijuana, reducing the quantity of opioids they consume or forgoing initiation of opiates altogether.”
“Marijuana is a far less addictive substance than opioids and the potential for overdosing is nearly zero,” the researchers wrote in the Journal of Health Economics.
Last week, Gillibrand became the second cosponsor of far-reaching Senate legislation to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and withhold federal funding from states that have racially disproportionate enforcement of cannabis laws.
“Millions of Americans’ lives have been devastated because of our broken marijuana policies, especially in communities of color and low-income communities,” she said at the time. “Legalizing marijuana is a social justice issue and a moral issue that Congress needs to address.”
Gillibrand is also a sponsor of far-reaching medical cannabis legislation and recently signed a letter calling for new protections for state marijuana laws to be inserted into federal spending legislation.
“I think medical marijuana could be treatment for a lot of folks,” she said in the interview on Friday. “A lot of veterans have told us that this is the best treatment for them. I do not see it as a gateway drug.”
Many political observers have speculated that Gillibrand will run for her party’s presidential nomination in 2020. She and at least two other potential Democratic contenders have already endorsed marijuana legalization.
A prominent Democratic U.S. senator is slamming pharmaceutical companies for opposing marijuana legalization.
“To them it’s competition for chronic pain, and that’s outrageous because we don’t have the crisis in people who take marijuana for chronic pain having overdose issues,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said. “It’s not the same thing. It’s not as highly addictive as opioids are.”