For years, humanity’s main defense against chronic pain has been opioids. However, opioid addiction has quickly become a major issue in America with 450,000 people dying from overdoses involving prescription and illicit opioids from 1999 to 2018. On April 17, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) called on patients living with chronic and acute pain to comment on their perspectives on the benefits and harms of opioid use as well as their experiences with other non-opioid and non-pharmacological treatments for pain.

By the time the June 16 deadline had passed, the CDC had received hundreds of comments about medical marijuana and thousands of comments related to kratom, a lesser-known herb that has shown promise as a pain reliever. The CDC had stated that it is looking for input on individual stakeholder’s values and preferences related to pain management options. “Through this opportunity, the CDC is seeking stakeholders’ perspectives on and experiences with pain and pain management, including but not limited to, the benefits and harms of opioid use.”

“CDC invites input specifically on topics focused on using or prescribing opioid pain medications, non-opioid medications, or non-pharmacological treatments (e.g. exercise therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy).” And, although the April 17 notice did not specifically reference kratom and medical cannabis, there were numerous comments from individuals who had used them for pain management with some success. Over 1,000 people talked about kratom, more than 200 discussed either ‘marijuana’ or ‘cannabis’ and about 70 talked about CBD.

“I suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and have had 15 skin cancer removals and didn’t receive pain meds for any of those surgeries! I wouldn’t have made it without cannabis. I have never had any side effects nor does it slow me down. It actually helps ease the pain which enables me to do more physical activities! It’s much safer than alcohol and I don’t understand why the U.S. hasn’t legalized it other than politics,” says one anonymous commenter.

Another individual who suffers from chronic pain says that they use cannabis to relieve nerve and muscle pain. “I use cannabis to relieve nerve pain effectively and it doesn’t cause me as much impairment as opioids and other medication I was prescribed for the injury.”

According to NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano, an estimated one in ten Americans suffers from chronic pain conditions that are “unresponsive to conventional pain treatments such as NSAIDs and opioids. Because of this unmet need, and because many conventional analgesics possess the risk of serious side effects, including overdose death, it is understandable that many patients are seeking alternative treatment regiments such as cannabis.”

Industry watchers believe that sector players like Green Growth Brands Inc. (CSE: GGB) (OTCQB: GGBXF) will be hoping that the CDC uses the responses as a guide to shaping how it views marijuana and other substances that people use to manage their pain.

“The CDC’s call for public comments is a unique opportunity for this agency to hear directly from these tens of thousands of patients who are therapeutically benefiting from cannabis and in many cases, substituting it in place of more dangerous opioids.”

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