Trading one drug woe for another?

Ohio’s “medicinal marijuana” program is just getting off the ground. Already, it is being suggested state officials should add a new health condition to the list of those for which cannabis can be prescribed as a remedy: opioid addiction.

There is evidence the active ingredient derived from the marijuana plant can help people suffering from certain maladies, including cancer. Cannabis also may help those coping with the agonies of withdrawal from opioid addictions, it is being said.

Dr. F. Stuart Leeds, who practices medicine and teaches at Wright State University, has said he may approach the State Medical Board regarding the matter. Some of what he knows about marijuana use by opioid addicts comes from his own patients, Leeds has said. “They know more about what marijuana will do for their chronic pain and addiction problems than we do,” he noted.

Some do not agree with Leeds. Allowing opioid addicts to obtain prescriptions for cannabis could lessen their motivation to battle drug dependence, it has been said.

Leeds’ idea should be investigated scientifically. Opioid addiction is a serious health problem, to which unconventional approaches may be appropriate.

But trading one drug addiction for a new drug habit does not seem to pass the common sense test. Before even thinking about adding it to the list of qualifying conditions for cannabis prescriptions, state officials should conduct careful, scientific research to avoid a serious mistake