Monday, October 30, 2017 by Ethan Huff
In the aftermath of President Trump’s recent speech on the opioid epidemic in America, a number of Republican senators have issued a call for the discovery of new opioid “alternatives,” demanding that Big Pharma step up to procure them. But such alternatives already exist in the form of natural plants like cannabis sativa (marijuana) and mitragyna speciosa (kratom) – the Grand Old Party just doesn’t like these natural options because they’re stuck in an ancient mindset of Reefer Madness paranoia.
Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, a Republican, is one prominent example of this. Just days ago, he demanded that the United States government intervene to “push the drug companies to come up with non-addictive alternatives” to deadly opioid medications like fentanyl that have fueled the addiction epidemic, which in many causes leads to serious injury and death. In Sen. Portman’s mind, you see, only the drug industry can come up with answers to the problem of pain and illness, and nature should be completely ignored at all costs.
This vulgar mindset was on full display back in 2015 when Sen. Portman declared in ignorance that legalizing cannabis in Ohio would take the state in the “wrong direction” – even though evidence continues to show that opioid overdoses and deaths decrease significantly in states that no longer send people to prison for possessing and using a plant that has hundreds of scientifically backed therapeutic benefits.
But Sen. Portman has shown time and time again that his outdated views will always take precedent to the truth. Concerning cannabis legalization in Ohio, Sen. Portman dug his heels into the sand and fought tooth and nail to maintain the prohibition status quo in the Buckeye State, which has yet to even fully implement its crippled medical marijuana program – which Sen. Portman opposed from the start and continues to oppose, despite the fact that at least 90 percent of the people of his state support it.
Rather than educate himself on the facts, Sen. Portman would rather stick to his guns, as misguided as they are. He also seems to want the government involved as much as possible in not only continuing to throw people in prison over a plant, but also in interfering with the free market as it pertains to coming up with solutions to the opioid epidemic – an epidemic that, ironically, largely stems from the prohibitionist position that politicians like Sen. Portman are obsessed with keeping in place.
He and several other members of Congress are eager to pass all sorts of new legislation granting the government even more power to control public access to pharmaceutical drugs rather than remove the existing government policies that are fueling the overdose epidemic – prohibition being high on the list. Conservatives should be asking themselves this question: Why are supposedly small-government Republicans like Sen. Portman calling for more government control as opposed to less?
Sen. Portman and many other members of Congress are likewise ignorant about kratom, a natural plant extract that many people use in lieu of opioid pharmaceuticals to naturally manage pain without harmful side effects. Sen. Portman has been tagged by the Botanical Education Alliance as a member of Congress who desperately needs an education on the safety and effectiveness of kratom, likely because he failed to oppose the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) proposed ban that would have added kratom to the dreaded Schedule I listing of substances “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”
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