A U.S. doctor in Illinois has launched a pain management clinic by weaning off his patients from opioids. The alternative, simply put, is marijuana.
Before launching his clinic, D. Rahul Khare, worked with thousands of patients to replace their reliance on opioids with marijuana, Patch reported.
Khare’s also uses other health and wellness treatments for chronic pain, which includes counselling, meditation and yoga. So far, he certified more than 3,000 people to take marijuana as a much better alternative than opioids.
But before his journey, Khare was like many other cynics thought marijuana is highly addictive and generally is bad, hence its illegal status.
“We’ve been taught since about three years ago—for our whole lives—that marijuana is illegal, you shouldn’t do it, it’s addicting, and it leads to possible heroin use.”
He added: “When you hear that, you’re like ‘I’m never going to give my patients that.”
The Illinois Department of Public Health said there were 1,946 opioid overdose deaths in the state in 2016.
“I’ll be honest—I didn’t know much about it,” Khare said.
“But I saw how my patients were decreasing the number of narcotics they were on—decreasing their benzos like Zanox and Ativan—and I thought, ‘there’s something here.’ So I started certifying my patients.”
After seeing marijuana’s benefits through his patients, Khare faced opposition in the medical community.
Many of his colleagues didn’t feel comfortable recommending marijuana as an alternative to opioids, he said.
“There’s still such a stigma with marijuana,” Khare said. “But why wouldn’t you want to legally help somebody with cancer or permanent pain?”
Since 2015, medical marijuana became legalized in Illinois. As of June 2017, over 20,000 qualifying patients participated in the state’s medical cannabis program. Illinois will have a referendum in November to allow its constituents whether they want to legalize marijuana or not.