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tv   Weed 4 Pot vs. Pills  CNN  April 29, 2018 5:00pm-6:00pm PDT

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>> it is a big night of premiers on cnn. first up, it is cnn's special report "weed 4" followed by "parts unknown" and "united shades of america." don't miss any of it. keep your station tuned to cnn. that does it for me. i'm dana bash v.. have a great week. we're going do work with the people. who are so addicted and we are going to try like hell to get them off that addiction. >> a national epidemic. trump campaigned to end it. as president, he promised to fix it. >> the scourge of drug addiction in america will stop. it will stop. >> but one year later -- it hasn't stopped. people are still dying. 115 americans die every day from
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an opioid overdose. more than car accidents, breast cancer or guns. >> literally everyone we know knows somebody who has died of an overdose. >> and 2.5 million americans are currently struggling with opioid addiction. >> it's completely hopeless where i just was like suicide at all cost and thought. >> people need to take some aspirin sometimes and tough it out. >> a solution some believe is this. cannabis. it's controversial to many. is cannabis a gateway drug? but a gateway to recovery for others. did it help you get out of the ownership yates? >> absolutely. >> cannabis has given may reason to live. >> join us as we investigate, search for answers and meet potential pioneers in outspoken critics, whether you struggle with opioids or know one of the
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millions who do decide for yourself. i'm dr. sanjay gupta and this is "weed 4: pot versus pills." november 13, 2013. >> second and goal. >> monday night football. >> james to the goal line. >> ah, man. that is -- that day changed my life. you know? >> they have lost might james. >> mike james was starting in the nfl. a childhood dream finally coming true. a dream born years ago in a small town in central florida by a young boy and his single mom. >> my mom was a huge football fan. >> i heard. i heard. >> huge, huge, huge.
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>> she used to chase you down the sidelines. >> oh yeah. huge. and i got into football through her. i mean, she put me in it. she knew i needed something to do with the energy i had. >> and something to keep him out of the trouble that mike says handed his absent father in and out of prison. that trouble was drugs. >> drugs tore my family. you know? so i wanted to just play football, go to school, stay in my books, not get in any trouble. >> my senior year, he was one of the nation's top high school running backs, offered a full scholarship to the university of miami, a known launching pad to the nfl. >> my mom, she was crazy excited. i mean, it was everything that i ever hoped for. it was everything i wanted, you know? >> and then -- overnight mike lost his biggest fan. his mom. died in a car accident during the holidays of his sophomore year.
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mike's wife aubry first met him not long after that accident. >> for him to be all right and mentally deal with this he was going to lean on football. >> the funeral was new year's eve 2010. >> here's the pass. left side. michael james. >> the same day as one of mike's biggest collegiate games, the sun bowl. excruciating decision. >> i was going to do the thing that made both of us happy. play ball. you know? >> she would have wanted you to be at that game. >> yeah. my mom -- i know my mom. you know? >> driven by grief, mike became relentless. pursuing that boyhood dream of playing professional football. he was drafted in 2013 by the tampa bay buccaneers. >> second and goal. >> and that takes us back to monday night football.
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>> james on the carry. >> two yards from the goal line, mike went in for a touchdown. >> he comes right down on that left ankle. >> the pain i was feeling was excruciating. >> he was in some pain. >> aubry raced down to be with her husband. >> he just was very calm and said i broke my ankle. i burst into tears. >> mike needed surgery, wires, screws and a rod were put in to repair the break. >> he was in so much pain he told me that he wanted to jus cut his leg off. >> and like so many post surgical patients, mike was given a cocktail of opiates to take home. did you worry about these pills yourself given what you'd seen with your own dad? >> no. why? because i was getting them from a doctor. you know? i was like, i'm not getting this off the street. must be cool for me to take it. you know? >> doctor gives it to you, it must be okay? >> yeah. >> aubry was worried, though.
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and tried to control how many he took. but mike couldn't seem to get enough. at one point, taking nearly two dozen painkillers a day. >> you can't be taking off these pills. you have to slow down. >> i didn't want to stop. i didn't feel the need to. i didn't see the harm in it. >> and that's something we've heard over and over as he eve reported on opioids. i don't want to stop. i can't stop. truth is, in the beginning the opioids work well, really well for certain kinds of pain. but as you're on them longer and longer, they become less and less effective. the result? you take more and more. and that's when they become dangerous. opioids unlike just about any other drug can turn off your body's natural instinct to breathe. take too many, fall asleep and never wake up. studies show dependence happens fast. within weeks, mike james had
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joined the millions of americans dependent on opioids putting himself at risk of dying every day and making him feel awful along the way. nauseated, constipated, still in pain. >> i became immune to the painkillers, like i still had pain and now i'm sedated with pain. >> our son was very young at that point. i'm trying to take care of mike, this small baby. >> i couldn't be around my kids like that. i didn't want to be around anybody. >> it was a scenario that started to look frighteningly familiar. >> the notion that i would do what my father did to me to my boys -- i knew i had to make a change. you know? >> and that change came from the most unlikely place. >> i thought weed? no. that's street drug. not even wanting to hear of what
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it had to offer. >> he's always been very anti-marijuana. i thought this is going to be a stretch. >> but with their lives falling apart, aubry made one final plea asking mike to try pot instead of pills. mike finally tried it in february 2014. >> my pain subsided. i never had something to be coherent and still have pain relief. >> mike was once again himself. clear of mind. and nearly pain free. but there was a problem. cannabis is banned in the nfl. using it can get you fined. suspended. even fired. a risk mike wasn't willing to take. >> if we get that stance -- >> a risk former nfl lineman turley understands.
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he was offered cannabis early in his career. >> this guy saw me and said, kyle, you need to try this. i said, no way. i won't risk my career and pop positive on a drug test. i want to be in the hall of fame. when i'm done with this game, maybe i will. i'll try it. >> and he did. as soon as he retired. >> hey, boo boo. >> now, every morning kyle begins his day with a cup of coffee and a few hits of something he calls a necessary medicine. marijuana. it's replaced all those pills he used to take. >> since '96 when i blew my knee out, it was a painkiller, muscle relaxer, sleep aid, anti-inflammatory. those four are staples in an athlete's regimen of medicine. >> it's the opioid, the painkiller i think that people are coming to terms with. >> yeah. because it's very easy for those
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to go from one to two to three. >> to more than a dozen a day. it became a near deadly addiction. >> i was completely hopeless. these side effects are very real. suicide is a constant thought. raging on my family. all these kinds of things. >> raging on the football field. >> and now turley throws the helmet. >> everybody talks about marijuana as a gateway drug and reality was this was my gateway to drugs. >> football was? >> yeah. >> in many ways, football players are the perfect population to see just how bad the opioid crisis really is. one study shows former players abuse opioids four times more than the general population. it's a tough, brutal game after all. constant pounding. hard hits. lots of pain.
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kyle turley, mike james. they felt they needed the opioids just to be able to do their job. >> your production is how you get paid. and you can't produce, you know, without playing on the field. >> opioids they were told by doctors were the best way to keep going. >> i got in to pain medicine at a time when we didn't have very good treatments for pain. >> dr. mark wallace is the director of the center for pain medicine at the university of california san diego. he like most of us doctors was taught in medical school to prescribe opioids. >> we were told, well, there's evidence that the use of ownership yates are probably not that risky and that we should use them more liberally. >> they don't wear off. >> it was the 1990s and doctors were seeing a lot of commercials like this one. >> these drugs which i repeat are our best, strongest pain medications should be used much more than they are for patients in pain. >> problem is, while they were
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fda. >> proved for some kinds of pain they were never intended to be used long term. >> started to see patients who were prescribed open ates for pain becoming addicted to those drugs. >> the director of the national institute on drug abuse believes that was the beginning of our opioid crisis. we knew that there was a danger. we knew that they weren't as effective after a period of time and yet it still happened anyway. >> marketing. >> we've started questions whether we should be using opioids. but we didn't have a lot of good alternatives at the time. >> proposition 215 made medical marijuana legal. >> prop 215. >> allows the sick and dying to use medical marijuana for medical reasons. >> i didn't jump on the bandwagon. are we going to make the same mistake? there is not a lot of evidence of cannabis at the time. >> but there was history.
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before marijuana was banned in the 1970s, it was used for more than a century as a treatment for many disorders. including leprosy, epilepsy and pain. >> and so you have to consider that. i started looking at medical cannabis as an alternative to opioids. >> in 1999, the california state government gave $10 million to wallace and others to study the plant at the center for medicinal cannabis research in southern california. within a decade, there were half a dozen studies to show that cannabis could relieve certain kinds of pain. the results made the cautious doctor more comfortable. he started to use cannabis in his practice as an alternative to opioids. 80% of his patients, hundreds of patients, were weaned off of pills using pot. >> how are you? >> nice to meet you. >> you, too.
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patients like mark she can ter. >> feeling okay right now? >> feeling pretty good. >> which is amazing when you consider mark has an extremely spoo painful spinal disorder that left him partially paralyzed ten years ago. >> the nerve pain. >> relentless and chronic, doctors offered opioids. perk set. oxycontin. fentanyl. >> roughly ten tablets, different medications, a day. >> yeah. >> every day? >> every day. i had to balance how well they were working. >> almost 4,000 pills a year. >> yes. >> ten years. 40,000 pills roughly. 40 house pills. that really didn't do anything for you. were you addicted to them? >> physically. >> that led him to dr. mark wallace who then recommended medical marijuana. >> it was amazing. i had immediate pain relief.
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not that it was gone. but it was so tollerible that i was like in heaven. >> almost two years later, mark is opioid free. and nearly pain free. on a scale of one to ten? >> two. i mean, it feels like a little bit of pressure in my leg instead of burning. it is amazing. it really is. >> what type of exercise are you doing? >> yet despite wallace's success in the lab and now in his clinic, most doctors he speaks to still favor opioids over cannabis. >> i lecture all over the country on medical cannabis use and i still get some speaking up saying i'm not comfortable with this. >> not comfortable with a plant. more comfortable with the traditional medicine they can prescribe. it's the same concern mike james had after using marijuana that one time.
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>> this is not regulated. where am i going to get this from again? you know? the pills is much easier to get. >> at least that's what he thought. more on that when we come back. ♪ ♪ i try so hard, ♪ i can't rise above it ♪ don't know what it is 'bout that little gal's lovin'. ♪ ♪ but i like it, i love it, ♪ i want some more of it ♪ we know you love it, so get more of it, with applebee's new bigger bolder grill combos. now that's eatin' good in the neighborhood.
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it's growing season at one
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of las vegas's largest medical marijuana dispensaries. shango. is this what the grow fields of today lock like? >> they are. indoor. these are a lot larger. >> 50 different kinds of cannabis are grown and cultivated here. >> thank you very much. >> kyle turley is a loyal customer. >> here's shango. i drive all the way back from southern california. >> that's nearly 500 miles round trip to restock his supply of cannabis every month. >> there's a lot to say for cleanliness, consistency of product. all the things in the marijuana program in california is hit and miss. this is my medicine. >> and while it may be his medicine, this plant is still not regulated like a traditional medicine. despite the fact it's now legal
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to use marijuana medicinally in more than half the united states. there is still no standard prix scribed dose. after a recommendation, not a prescription from a doctor, a patient is pretty much on their own. >> whoa. >> a little different. >> yeah. >> it's a lot of trial and error. how many strands did you try? >> everything california's had to offer. >> is that right? >> yeah. >> and the one that helped him as a substitute for painkillers, a strain high in nonpsych owe active cbd. remember, cannabis is made up of 400-plus ingredients. two scientists know the most about are thc which is a psychedelic component of cannabis which makes you feel high and then there's cbd. the nonpsycho active chemical. we told you about this one for years, especially how it stops chronic
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chronic epileptic seizures in children and is helpful coming the pain. cbd can do something opioids cannot. >> with opiates you mask the pain. >> she edited the pot book, a complete guide to cannabis. >> with medical cannabis you are not just talking about decreasing pain but you are decreasing inflammation. >> opioids interfere with pain signals going to the brain. but cannabis works on two receptors, bun that blocks that pain and one that decreases inflammation. it's ironic that cannabis can do more than opioids yet prescription opioids are legal and cannabis is not. historically, that was not the case. for centuries both cannabis and poppy, two plants the natural forms of marijuana and opioids, were commonly preskribled by doctors and dispensed at
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pharmacies. but that changed in the 19 30z. opioids became a best selling drug and cannabis became fringe in part because one of hemp was a threat to big business. hemp is a cheap fiber, good for making paper and canvas, more absorbent than cotton and could be used as a poim fuel. >> so there are a lot of vested interests that sort of put cannabis down, took it away from the doctors, made it illegal. >> despite many efforts we have reported on for the past five years, marijuana is still an illegal schedule 1 controlled substance. same as heroin and meth. >> the opportunities that are available -- >> something kyle remembers every time he crosses state lines with his month's supply of cannabis. the medicine he says he can't live without. >> they could pull me out of my car and file federal charges against me for trafficking marijuana across state lines.
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>> you know kyle turley? >> yeah, yeah. all of those guys, man, i have a courage to be here in front of you because those guy that is paved the way. >> and the courage to finally give up the opioids. that came in the summer of 2017. injured at practice, the opioids didn't help so he decided he's stop using them for good. >> i was excited. you know? i felt like i was beginning a new life. you know? >> a new life, pot. over pills. >> i was looking for something with inflammation, muscle spasm. >> he got advice from friends and got more comfortable. >> i like that dosage, though. >> he got the medical marijuana card and like kyle turley, went to the dispensary and found strains that worked for him. >> leg and foot. this is good for my ankle right here. >> but also like kyle, it was a
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risky decision. remember, what we told you earlier. marijuana, even non-psych owe active cbd, is banned in the nfl so mike had to be careful not to test positive. he was willing, however, to take the chance. but then -- mike's luck ran out. a couple of months later. >> marijuana positive test. >> the nfl put mike in their substance abuse program. but -- what if he continued to test positive? >> it could ban me from the league forever because of marijuana. >> and it could happen any day. an uncertainty mike was not willing to live with as the 2018 football season approached. >> hi, mike. it is great to see you. >> with two months until training camp, mike decided to be the first nfl player to file a tue, a therapeutic use exemption for cannabis, basically he wanted approval to use medical marijuana even though it's banned. >> this is the first active
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player who's been willing to put their professional career on the line to openly admit that they have been using this cannabis. so they want to know dose -- >> the doctor is taking on the fight to help nfl players like mike to use medical cannabis legally as part of a group called doctors for cannabis regulation. >> they understand the risks that i have playing in the nfl and being a child of substance abuse. they take all that into consideration. >> it does take a tremendous amount of fortitude to be able to question the nfl openly when you're getting a paycheck from them. >> mike knows he's put his career and his family in jeopardy. >> i just want people to listen. it would open the door for so many guy it is use this as their medicine. >> but will the nfl slam the
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door in mike's face? that, a little later. >> able to reverse. >> but first, researchers using cannabis to open the door as a new way to break the chain of addiction. ble people. to help save the universe... from paying too much on their car insurance. hey, there's cake in the breakroom... what are you doing? um...nothing? marvel studios' avengers: infinity war, in theaters april 27th. now...where were we?
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poppy. a beautiful flower that looks harmless enough. but the opioids derived from this plant can turn people into add dikts. >> they start seeking them out and at the cost of everything else, even their death. >> yazmin herd at mt. sinai in
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new york said it's because they make profound changes in the brain soon after you start using them. >> this is where you actually get to look at the brains? >> exactly. >> hurd collects brains, hundreds of them from opioid addicts who have overdose. it's grim work. is there anything that's different about the brain of someone who's an addict versus someone else's brain? >> it is not gross changes. it is how the cells communicate with each other that are changed. >> hurd showed me under the microscope. this is a healthy brain. lots of cells, lots of connections. >> beautiful, the branching, the communication is essential for every single thing we do. >> this is a brain on drugs. specifically, opioids. >> so one of the things you can see is that there's not that many networks. >> looks like a poorly populated neighborhood. >> exactly. >> this is what a brain disease
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looks like. opioids have damaged these receptors, the glutomate receptors in the prefrontal cortex of the brain making it harder to make decisions, use good judgment, making it harder to just say no. >> the craving is so prominent. it's so enormous that they can't stop themselves. >> even if they want to stop they can't. their newly wired brain won't let them. it could help explain why some therapies to treat addiction aren't successful. take abstinence. >> i think it's e agree jous. you're telling someone whose brain is fundamentally changed that all they have to do is just say no when those circuits that mediate those aspects of cognition are altered. >> that's why hurd says abstinence programs are usually only 5% to 10% effective. there is more success, however,
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with what's called medication assisted treatment m.a.t. these drugs do reduce the risk of overdosing by more than 50% but hurd's biggest concern is dill dependent on opioids and as you see that means the brain disease of addiction is never fully treated and why she started to focus on the cba in cannabis no out only treat the underlying pain but to also heal the brain. >> that cba normizes that so by normalizing glutomate you can restructure and normal back the impairments in the cellular level at the molecular level. >> helping get rid of the cravings that someone keeps taking someone back. >> exactly, exactly. >> and it's not just the pain. or even the cravings that cannabis could help but also the
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withdrawal symptoms of getting off opioids, the nausea, the insomnia, the bone searing pain. it's like an intense glue that won't go away. >> the withdrawal of opioids was horrific. they say we'll get you through that. >> dr. wallace's team figured out the right strains to soothe the symptoms which are very similar to the side effects of chemotherapy. no surprise because for decades studies shown that both thc and cbd can help cancer patients in treatment. >> did it help you get off of the opioids? >> absolutely. >> 100%. you hear about cbd being able to help people with withdrawal type symptoms they get trying to come off of opiates. you have been here as you mentioned that cbd can help repair the brain. is that as promising as it sounds? >> as a scientist, i definitely try to be optimistic. >> but also cautious.
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she knows we need more research but getting that done is not easy. it's something we have reported on for years. because cannabis is a controlled substance, getting federal funding is difficult and getting the cannabis to study is challenging. it took yasmin hurd four years just to get started. >> i just don't understand why we c't go on to have more in-depth studies the really see indeed if this does work and can be effective for at least a subset of people even if it's not for all the 50,000 people who will die this year. >> i it's hard for to do. >> harvard's stacy gruber has struggled to do this research. her early studies show candidates reduced the opioid use by 47%. it's a staggering number. and like hurd, gruber also showed their brain changed when
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off of pills and on pot. the brain's white mat tore communicate from one region to another became better organized. >> those same folks show improvements in cognitive performance so it's very exciting. >> exciting for opioid addicts and now raising the question, could this help with other brain diseases? like alzheimer's and dementia. the latest research shows that in lab-grown neurons, cannabis remove it is protein that accumulates in the brains of these patients. again, nothing else has been identified to do that. that doesn't surprise kyle turley. he was diagnosed with early cte, a sort of alzheimer's-like disease and he is a firm believer cbd has helped return his memory. quell his anger and ease his depression. >> we have a potential resolve to allow individuals to live better arrives. >> but to know for sure means more research which as i've told
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you is hard enough. and it might get even harder. >> if i was sick i wouldn't suggest you take marijuana. >> that when we come back. when they say you're not ready... that's the time to really shine. ♪ introducing elvive extraordinary oil. in just 1 use, elvive revives your driest hair without weighing it down. with luxurious camellia and golden sunflower oils... it leaves your hair healthier, shinier, and 10 times more nourished. elvive revives dry hair. because you're worth it.
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>> it is time for the doctors to listen to my doctors. >> mike traveling around the country with dr. sue sicily with doctors for cannabis regulation. it's been a month now since he petitioned the nfl for a therapeutic use exemption for cannabis. >> it is my medicine. it is not a game or anything. >> mike's case is such a perfect example of why cannabis needs to be made available because he's really not a candidate for opioids. >> this crowd seems receptive to that message. but that's not the case 500 miles away in the nation's capital. >> the use of marijuana is detrimental. >> it is not a healthy substance. if i were sick i wouldn't suggest you take marijuana to cure yourself. >> attorney general jeff sessions who declined to be interviewed for this documentary has made it crystal clear, he sees no good to come out of marijuana. including cannabis' role in the opioid crisis.
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>> i'm astonished to hear people suggest we can solve our heroin, crisis, have you heard this, by having more marijuana. how stupid is that? >> this bills become so addictive. the dea said a huge percentage of heroin addiction starts with prescription. we think it's starting wit murn and other drugs. >> marijuana as a gateway drug to more dangerous, more lethal narcotics. it's a notion that has steered policy and public opinion for decades. >> leading medical researchers are coming to the conclusion that marijuana, pot, grass, whatever you want to call it, is probably the most dangerous drug in the united states. >> but what if that long-held notion isn't true? >> there's really no evidence that cannabis is did gateway to hard drugs. ten years of clinical experience i have never seen it. >> gateway sure. greatway to feeling better and
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getting my life back. >> cannabis is opposed to being a gateway is a termis and stop drug use. >> these are the researchers who write the books, advance the science, grow our knowledge and they are seeing an increasing body of research suggesting marijuana can actually stop addiction and help offset the opioid epidemic. a rand corporation study funded by the national institute on drug abuse showed something few initially expected. between 1999 and 2010, states with league functioning medical marijuana dispensaries is seen lower opioid prescription rates and fewer deaths from opioid overdoses. fewer. not greater. we're going to be looking at 64,000 deaths in '16. >> we got to stop the deaths. >> both former governor chris christie and former congressman patrick kennedy served on president trump's commission on combatting addiction and the
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opioid crisis. >> so i had assembled a whole litany of recommendations for better mental health and addiction for this country. >> kennedy has been very public about his own addiction and recovery. >> i was on sub ox xoen for a number of years. when someone is out there in the throws of opioid addiction it is 100% sure that if you give them opioid replacement therapy you get them stabilize. >> for kennedy and the rest of the opioid commission, the best way to save lives is expanded access to m.a.t. medication assisted treatments. not marijuana. >> the commission was reacting to a number of questions about whether you could substitute marijuana for opioids and obviously people would be stoned but they wouldn't be dead. >> zero fatalities it i a point coming up over and over again. no one has ever reportedly died
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from a marijuana overdose. would you say that cannabis is saver than opioids? is that a fair statement to make? >> in terms of overdoses, absolutely. >> if physical pain is treated in this way, and in a way less risky, when the midst of this opioid epidemic, isn't that worth considering? >> no. it's -- it seems eminently sensible to if you're looking at the lesser of two evils but by that logic, you know, we would be accepting a lot of stuff in this country and in my view if we really want to get medicines to people then we go about it in the way that we have always gone about it, sanjay. and that's called nih research, clinical styles fda approval. and the reason we have that as you know, sanjay, is because of safety, efficacy and risk. >> it's a fair point. but the president's commission
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did not recommend any research into medical marijuana nor any of its compounds. including nonpsycho active cbd. a mistake, a missed opportunity according to researchers like yasmin hurd. >> should be treated like everything else. let it have its due process and let's see what evidence is there for it treating or not treating a particular symptom or disorder. >> whether it's cannabis prescribed by dr. wallace, it's marijuana as medicine. an idea shot down time and time again by the country's top law enforcement official. >> i'm afraid that the public is not properly educated on some of the issues related to marijuana. >> what would you say to the attorney general? >> i would say he's wrong. and i think that he needs to be educated. if he came and spent a week with
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me in my clinic i think i could probably convince him otherwise. >> education and understanding, the same goals mike james has by going public with his story. early word from the nfl is that they only give therapeutic use exemptions for drugs that are fda approved. cannabis, of course, is not. but the league is still considering it as is the nfl player's union which has already been looking at marijuana as part of the initiative to study pain and the best therapies for it. executive director d. maurice smith. >> our job is to find the best medical research to support it. our job is to figure out how do we build the best medical support for the best treatment for you? >> and while mike waits, we are now closer than ever to the first fda approved cannabis
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based drug. so how did it happen? that when we come back.
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thousands of miles away from mike james and the nfl, a big breakthrough brews in these secret labs.
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>> this is probably the most tlc for a et weed i have heard of. >> one would hope so. >> when et we visited here five years august, it was a dream that's now about to become reality. t the. >> we now just a matter of a couple months away from potential approval and launch of the first ever plant derived cannabis-based meds in the united states. >> the first of its kind, a prescription medicine made from cbd. it's a liquid solution that potentially can help thousands of kids who suffer from epileptic seizures. young children like vivian wilson and charlotte, who you met in our previous weed documentaries. >> we have to do it the old fashioned way. >> when it came to finding the right treatment, these families were left to trial and error. >> we add more oil or more weed? >> in some cases, even
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extracting the badly needed medicine in their own kitchens. >> we can assure patients they receive the same product day in and day out. >> five years ago when we started reporting on this, things were desperate. parents left with the the choice of cannabis or death. researchers weren't behind them, society had turned its back and now we are on the eve of a new drug being approved. could the same happen with opioids? could pot become a reasonable and accepted alternative to pills. >> we have seen in early studies the potential for cannabis within the drug addiction field and within the opioid sparing and pain fields as well. so like with many other areas, we're at the cusp. of a new era of potential uses. >> fda commissioner scott goth leeb. >> if. you can demonstrate that a product based on marijuana can
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be used as a safe and effective alternative to some other condition, we want to look at that. >> but cannabis-based pharmaceuticals are still far off on the horizon. in the meantime, all over the country, people have taken action. unwilling or unable to wait any longer. like in maine known for its rugged coastline, fishing villages and iconic light houses, and now known for overdose deaths, which have doubled here over the past three years. jamie higgins last her brother to opioids. >> battling the opioid crisis is going to come down to doing things we're uncomfortable about. it's the shocking changes that bring change to the epidemic. >> shocking changes and bold steps. >> the cannabis i think you're using it really well.
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when will the medical community catch up with what their patient polllations are doing? >> with two outpatient clinics in the state, dustin has treated hundreds of people who have is used cannabis to wean off of opioids. >> we see the drug list w whittling down and down. there's no puff to completely solve this problem. but cannabis when it's uses in the right way can take a big bite out of it. >> so far it's worked for angie. >> i know i'm never going to be pain free ever. but cannabis has given me a reason to live. >> cannabis has also worked for doug campbell. they believe without medical marijuana their addiction would have killed them. doug tried everything to quit opioids. dozens of rehabs including the gold standard methadone treatments, but nothing worked. >> then you try the cannabis. it filled the void.
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>> i don't want to overstate this, but decades of opioid use, 32 times in and out of rehab, you try the cannabis and it works instantly, is that real? >> that's real. i have no craving. i have no desire. i us do not have any thought about it at all, period. >> but to so many, these stories, thousands of stories around the country are simply not enough. >> i have no not seen a single story that has shown that by giving a patient suffering from an opioid disorder cannabis they are able to stop taking opioids. et we cannot be guided by wishful thinking. >> people are dying. you can't help dead people. there's no waiting. >> this is transformation pain cream and it has 400 milligrams of active cannabis. it has thc. >> roxanne recently opened one
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of the only pot-based substance abuse treatment programs in the country. >> we're good families, but literally everyone we know knows somebody who has died of an overdose. >> how ahead of the the curve, if you will, is maine and what you're doing in all this? >> we're pioneers. we get a lot of pushback, but having actually experienced it to not share it would be immoral. >> it's a message being heard in the state capitol. even by the most conservative politicia politicians. republican state senator eric braky is proposing radical legislation. he wants to add opioid addiction to the list of qualifying conditions for the state's medical marijuana program. makingt easier for opioid addicts to access cannabis. >> it's an age-old debate are you trading one drug for another. >> even if. we are doing a trade from a narcotic that people can overdose on to a plant that's
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non-narcotic and to one has ever overdosed on in the history of the world, if that's the trade we're making, that sounds like not so bad a trade. >> the senator isn't the only one willing to make that deal. >> medical marijuana. >> medical marijuana. >> a big announcement by governor murphy about medical marijuana. >> one that i think should be considered and that is recovery from opioid addiction. >> other states like new jersey, connecticut and new mexico are now considering similar legislation. >> all people are asking for is is the freedom to make their own choices, to try something for themselves as they are attempting to break the grip of addiction. >> it's the same freedom mike james is asking the nfl as he fights for a therapeutic use exemption for medical marijuana. it approved, it would be the first of its kind in any professional sports league. it would also mean mike james would no longer have to choose
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between the sport he loves and his health. >> if you look at your biography 30 years from now, it's probably going to say professional football player on the first line. but medicinal marijuana ed a advocate, is that what you want to be known for? >> yes, i'm fine with that. i'm not ashamed of it. i'm not embarrassed of it. it's something that i will continue to use because i have a life to live. >> mike james, just one of so many people who claim their lives were saved because they traded these pills for pot. >> now hold on. >> but now the struggle continues for researchers to catch up, to gather data and the scientific evidence to once again. prove the power of this plant.
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>> robie: this place was a boomin'. you couldn't get through this town down there. but it's dead now. about eight or ten coal mines shut down at one time. >> coach: let's go. it's the same halftime speech every single week. >> quentin: there is so much negativity surrounding this

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