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For nearly my entire lifetime, I’ve been told that marijuana is a gateway drug.  I’ve been continually warned away from it, and told that marijuana would destroy any chance of a future. The “Just Say No” campaign during Reagan’s presidential term targeted law enforcement at marijuana, while opiates were basically ignored. Finally, cannabis legalization is spreading across the nation, and studies are just beginning to understand the opportunities of cannabinoid therapy.  Surprisingly, cannabis has proved helpful in beating addiction to other drugs. Addiction affects over 21 million Americans. Two million Americans are addicted to prescription medications, and over 500,000 battle addiction to heroin. Over the last fifteen years, accidental deaths due to overdose have tripled. Cannabis therapy is a potential treatment for addiction. The common argument against further studies is that switching the dependence on one substance to another is not an effective solution.  However, addiction to marijuana is extremely rare. In fact, marijuana is less addictive than many legal substances, such as cigarettes. A third of the 52,000 deaths by overdose in 2015 were the result of prescription drugs. Heroin is responsible for 13,000 deaths. No one has ever overdosed from marijuana. The DEA has stated that no one has ever died from marijuana overdose. Already, the states that have legalized cannabis have reported nearly 25% fewer deaths related to opioid overdose. They’ve also shown a decline in prescriptions used to treat depression, psychosis, seizures, anxiety, sleep disorders, nausea and spasticity.  Legalizing medical marijuana also saves money. In 2013, medical marijuana saved the Medicare program around $165 million dollars. Legalization nationwide adds up to a potential savings of around $470 million, and offers a natural and successful plan of treatment for addiction.

cannabis facts 

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