The new medical marijuana legislation could have an impact on North Dakota's opioid crisis.

Chris berg:
Well, tonight we start with something I didn't think I would ever, ever say in the state of North Dakota. Marijuana, weed, mary jane, whatever you want to call it, at least the medical kind, is now legal. I can't even believe I’m saying legal here in North Dakota. The governor, the compassionate care bill was put into law today. I will tell you why this bill is going to save lives in our communities. Good evening and welcome to point of view. I'm Chris berg. This bill will have a tremendous impact for chronic pain patients. I will tell you what I mean specifically. Last night, if you watched this show, we had the u. S. Attorney general Chris Meyers on. Of course the challenges we face right here in our community. Now, in 2015, just to give you some numbers, 52,000 people died due to drug overdoses in 2015. It's a crazy number. Two-thirds of those deaths were due to opioid overdoses. We had more in 2015 than any other single year in the entire history of our nation. That's how epidemic, big this problem is. Here is a quick question for you as i give you some of those numbers. How many people do you think died of overdose deaths due to marijuana or medical marijuana? If you guessed none, zero, you guessed absolutely right. Here we are allowing big pharma to go out there and literally put our kids' lives at risk. If you have a child that's gone in and got their wisdom teeth pulled, you know how overprescribed kids are. They're getting like 30 of these things, and if you do your homework on the opioid crisis, people become addicted simply because of the prescriptions. Here we make marijuana this big boogie man, and no one has died from an overdose of marijuana. Now, to be frank about this, can marijuana be a gateway drug? Absolutely. Many times it is. What i'm getting at tonight is the impact of overdoses we're having right here in our community. To give you an idea of what's happening in our community, right here in the Fargo, Moorhead alone, we had 31 overdose deaths in 2016. 70% of those were opioid related. Here's the scary thing. That's three times more overdose deaths than we had in 2015. So 31 here in our metro area. Even scarier thing, back in 2014, there was 51 overdose deaths in the city of Grand Forks. Some of you at home may be asking, okay, bird, who what in the world does opioid deaths have to do with North Dakota legalizing medical marijuana? This is where the bill becomes critically important and becomes a lifesaving bill. Doctors in a state where medical marijuana was legal, on average, fewer doses of painkillers per year. Think about the impact that this is going to have in the state of North Dakota and the state of Minnesota. Let's go on to 2010. This is just in 2010, states with legalized medical marijuana, this is mind-blowing. Saw approximately 1,700 fewer opioid related overdose deaths. That's shocking to me. If you look around the country, we've been pretty fortunate. As bad as this has been in the county, it's been bad across country. I just want you to understand that a lot of people had their doubts of the impact of this bill or what this bill was going to look like. I want to give kudos to our governor. It got passed. A lot of people were up in arms, they're changing this entire bill. This is not going to work, but the people in Bismarck got things done. Honoring what the people of North Dakota did, when you start to break down these numbers, wait a second. This isn't just about the legalization of medical marijuana. This is about -- hopefully. I'm crossing my fingers here, but this is making a huge impact on the opioid crisis in our community. Let's hope we can get these things implemented and bring down the amount of prescriptions taking place and, of course, ideally save some lives.

Just to give you context on how big this opioid crisis is, they're hosting a town hall on opioid issues. It's going to be, as you can see, when, Saturday, 1:00 p. M. It's at the prairie woods learning center in Spicer, Minnesota. I just wanted to spread the word. If you heard what u. S. Attorney Chris Meyers had to say about the situation last night. It's unbelievable how much fentanyl, heroin, things like that are coming into our community. We need to have all hands on deck to put a stop to this situation. Love to hear your point of view and thoughts on medical marijuana being legalized in the great state of North Dakota. Honestly, did you ever think you would hear legalized medical marijuana in the same sentence here in North Dakota? Hopefully it's going to be a good thing for our state.

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