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Nevada senators propose bill that would allow opioid addicts to use medical marijuana

Opioid abuse is becoming a growing problem nationwide and now Nevada lawmakers are taking steps to help addicts in the Silver State. Senators have proposed SB 228, a bill that would allow opioid addicts to use medical marijuana to treat their condition.

One Nevada man shared his story of addiction and recovery using cannabis. Jesse Monroe Alexander said, "it was to the point where I would rather have bought drugs than bought shoes to walk around in; I would have rather been barefoot and I knew something was wrong."

That's when Alexander realized he was addicted to methamphetamine and opiates and decided to make a change. "I was very poor and this became the one option I had available was to actually try and treat my addiction with cannabis."

He said using marijuana helped him stop using meth and curbed his withdrawal symptoms. "The urge to be an addict just disappeared."

Alexander has since become passionate about the medicinal benefits of marijuana. "100 percent changed my life for the better."

He recently released his own cannabis cookbook with the goal of helping patients take more accurate doses of their medicine. "You can then portion it out into servings and know exactly how much you're taking." His book includes dozens of recipes to make pot edibles and teaches patients extraction methods so there's no guesswork when they take their medication.

Alexander said he was excited when he learned Nevada senators introduced SB 228 this week because he believes the new law could help other addicts get clean. "This is one of the few things in the cogs of the wheel of the cannabis industry that was direly important for all of us."

Senator Tick Segerblom is well-known for his support of Nevada's marijuana industry. He believes SB 228 will give more patients access to a safer way to manage their pain.

Segerblom said, "it's not addictive. There's no withdrawal symptoms and it doesn't cause the long-term effects that opioids do; so it really is a win-win if you can divert somebody from an opioid to marijuana."

He noted states like Colorado have seen a drop in opioid deaths since legalizing marijuana. "It's something where apparently opioid users can use marijuana too and so they use less, so why not try it?"

Nevada Senate Bill 228 (as introduced) by Olivia DeGennaro on Scribd

Other lawmakers, however, have some issues with the bill. Senator Joe Hardy said, "I would be hopeful that we come to our senses and make a good amendment."

Currently, only doctors can give patients a recommendation for a medical marijuana prescription; but if passed, SB 228 would give that power to nurses, psychologists, and counselors.

Hardy said, "it allows each one of them to say, 'Oh yes, you have a chronic condition, and now I think you should probably get medical marijuana.' It's an overstep, it's out of their scope of practice and it's even dangerous."

Senator Hardy also worries about Nevadans swapping one addiction for another. But Jesse Monroe Alexander said, having used both meth and marijuana, the two are nothing alike.

"I for one as a cannabis patient and someone who has struggled with addiction, it is nothing the same. These are not anywhere in the same areas when it comes to drug use."

News 4 will follow this bill as it makes its way through the legislature and bring you updates about whether it passes or fails,

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