Americans, especially those affected by the opioid crisis, poured their hearts out through a public hearing in Hartford city in the U.S. state of Connecticut on Monday.
The hearing’s sole aim was to hear proposals to allow prescriptions of medical marijuana in Connecticut for five additional diseases and disorders — including opioid withdrawal, The Hartford Courant reported.
Proponents of legalization have long touted marijuana as an alternative to ease pain as opposed to opioid-based prescription drugs, which are highly addictive.
“After losing so many friends, you can’t help but spend countless nights grieving, trying to figure out why and what you could have done to prevent these senseless deaths,” Cody Roberts told the state Board of Physicians.
Roberts, who was addicted to opioids before and attempted to kill himself twice, said he lost eight friends in the past year to opioid overdoses.
“My passion and drive to achieve this are fueled by my personal experience battling pharmaceutical drug addiction solely with the use of cannabis,” he said.
Roberts spoke of his own ordeal during the testimony.
“I went to jail. I went to rehab. I tried to commit suicide twice,” he said. But after finding marijuana as an alternative, he said pot “saved my life.”
The firefighter James Preston, 57, was also among those who testified. He spoke of his torment and his life when he was using prescription opioids.
“I was like a zombie,… I was thinking about running into a tree… I felt useless.”
Urging his doctor for an alternative, Preston ended up making and using his own marijuana oil. “It started getting better,” Preston said.
“I could get on a fire truck right now and do my job… I know if it wasn’t for cannabis oil, I wouldn’t have made it.”
Despite the emotional plea, the Board of Physicians postponed their decision, saying that they needed additional information from experts in those fields.
In 2016 alone, U.S. federal experts said more than 42,000 have died because of opioid overdose. The death toll in Connecticut increased to 917, they said.
Meanwhile, Connecticut’s Governor Dannel P. Malloy and his administration launched the “Change the Script” on Monday to raise awareness about prescription drug and opioid abuse.
The campaign will distribute materials on the prevention of, treatment of and recovery from opioid abuse to local health departments, prevention councils, healthcare providers, pharmacists and other community partners, CTPost reported.
“Opioid addiction and prescription drug misuse is a disease that is impacting nearly every community and people of every background.”
He added: “Our work on this front will not be finished until our communities and our families are no longer struggling with the grave costs of this illness.”