A freshman Republican congressman on Thursday condemned New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for “outrageous” statements he made comparing medical cannabis legalization efforts to the origins of the current opioid epidemic.
“It is shortsighted, it is inaccurate and it is indefensible to suggest that the proliferation of medical cannabis—- that is saving lives and improving quality of life for people — somehow is analogous to the plague of the opioid crisis,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said at a press conference organized by the American Legion, which is calling for legalization and research of medical marijuana for U.S. military veterans.
Christie, a Republican, is chairman of President Donald Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. In a letter announcing recommendations made by the commission Wednesday, Christie compared the recent proliferation of medical cannabis laws to the over-prescribing of opioids that led to the current epidemic.
“There is a lack of sophisticated outcome data on dose, potency, and abuse potential for marijuana,” Christie wrote towards the end of a seven-page cover letter accompanying the commission’s report. “This mirrors the lack of data in the 1990’s [sic] and early 2000’s [sic] when opioid prescribing multiplied across health care settings and led to the current epidemic of abuse, misuse and addiction. The Commission urges that the same mistake is not made with the uninformed rush to put another drug legally on the market in the midst of an overdose epidemic.”
Gaetz dismissed Christie’s logic on Thursday, asserting that to stem the ongoing crisis, the country should have the maximum number of options available — including medical cannabis — to prevent people from turning to opioids.
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