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Dr. Oz Says Medical Marijuana Could Help Solve Opioid Addiction

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Opponents of legalizing marijuana have long claimed that it is a “gateway drug” that leads to use of other substances. But one of the country’s most famous physicians says the opposite might be true.

“The real story is the hypocrisy around medical marijuana,” Mehmet Oz — better known as Dr. Oz — said in an appearance on Fox News on Tuesday morning. “People think it’s a gateway drug to narcotics. It may be the exit drug to get us out of the narcotic epidemic.”

Oz also criticized marijuana’s current status under federal law.

“We’re not allowed to study it because it’s a Schedule I drug, and I personally believe it could help,” the physician, TV host and author said.

Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy simply responded, “Wow.”

The Controlled Substance Act’s Schedule I — the most restrictive category — is supposed to be reserved for drugs with no medical value and a high potential for abuse. Researchers have long complained that marijuana’s classification there creates additional hurdles that don’t exist for studies on other substances.

Heroin and LSD are also in Schedule I alongside cannabis, yet cocaine and methamphetamine are classified in the less restrictive Schedule II category.

California lawmakers passed a joint resolution last week officially urging the federal government to reschedule marijuana.

Also last week, while introducing legislation to remove hurdles to marijuana research, U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) suggested the possibility that cannabis could be an alternative to opioids.

A growing body of research suggests that legal marijuana access is associated with reduced opioid addiction and overdose rates.

Oz has previously spoken about medical marijuana’s potential as a safer alternative to opioids.

This story was first published by Forbes.

Photo courtesy of Senator Claire McCaskill’s office.

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Tom Angell is the editor of Marijuana Moment. A 15-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he serves as chairman of the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Previously he reported for Marijuana.com and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. (Organization citations are for identification only and do not constitute an endorsement or partnership.)

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