Medicinal Heroin?

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s medical expert, is releasing his documentary “Weed” this Sunday at 8. Formerly a staunch opponent to medical marijuana, Gupta now believes that the American public has been “systematically misguided” about the drug. In particular, he believes that its Schedule I status is highly inaccurate (no pun intended). If it is, though, then why is there no campaign for medicinal heroin?

A Schedule I classification states that the drug in question has “no accepted medicinal use and a high potential for abuse.” While this very well may be inaccurate, there are other drugs that also should not be classified as such.

Morphine—the drug from which heroin is derived—has been used for over a hundred years as a painkiller, and continues to be used today. Heroin was originally developed as a “safe” (i.e., non-addictive) form of the drug to help stem the growing tide of opiate addiction, yet still contain the same properties. Wouldn’t it make sense, then, under Dr. Gupta’s reasoning, that heroin would not qualify as a Schedule I drug either, since it still is one of the best analgesic painkillers out there?

Yes, it has a high potential for abuse, but addicts will use any substance that produces a sense of escape from reality.

The debate over medical marijuana is not all that different than a battle for so-called medicinal heroin. The question at the end of the day remains, “Do the medical benefits outweigh the risk of abuse?”

Ask a sufferer of extreme and unbearable pain—in either camp—and the result will always be a resounding yes.

Advocates of medical marijuana are always quick to point out that “heroin can be deadly,” but really, that is outside the scope of the argument. The question isn’t whether or not the drug has the possibility of killing a person; it is whether or not there is an accepted medical use. In this context, it would seem that medicinal heroin—despite it’s high susceptibility to abuse—has a stronger case for having an accepted medical use than marijuana does.

Tylenol, too, is fatal in higher doses, but no one seems to deny its medical benefits.

Meanwhile, methadone and suboxone are considered legal if a prescription is given, despite their primary uses being in maintaining the symptoms of an addition to an illegal substance. If that isn’t a little backwards, what is?

Marijuana, for better or worse, has enjoyed a somewhat nostalgic reputation. The fact that today’s weed is nearly eight times stronger than the weed from back then does not seem to play into the equation, though. Heroin, on the other hand, has always had the stigma of sickness, dirtiness, and depravity.

To be clear, we are not advocating for or against either marijuana or heroin. All we are saying is that, especially with the research that has been done since those early days, it might be time to revisit the criteria by which we deem a drug legal or illegal, rather than trying to wedge a substance to fit within those criteria.

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