Medical Authority Warns of Legal Cannabis Gateway Risk

Dr. Richard Rosenthal of Nexus Vitale comments on the recent legislation of marijuana by Colorado and its risk of increasing pain killer abuse.

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Marijuana may lead to opiate addiction.

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Salt Lake City, Utah (PRWEB) February 05, 2014

Dr. Richard Rosenthal, founder of Nexus Vitale and a 30-year pain management practitioner announced today that Colorado legislators may have taken “insufficient measures” in regulating marijuana access, concerning a potential link between early cannabis use and the rising epidemic of painkiller abuse. Nexus Vitale manufactures the Ritiro system, the first medically-developed opiate withdrawal support program,(1) designed in response to the surge in opiate prescription and abuse rates in the US over the past decade as reported by PBS News.(2).

Dr. Rosenthal’s announcement addresses the Colorado electorate’s recent move to regulate cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol. YouGov, a popular political blog, suggests this decision reflects the interests of a strong majority of Americans under the age of 65, who view the war on drugs as a failed effort.(3) Dr. Rosenthal admits, "The legalization of cannabis may prove socially and fiscally beneficial, diminishing prison populations and providing tax revenue. However, Yale Daily News reports that recent research performed by Yale grad students indicates that marijuana use has a greater connection with future prescription pill abuse than alcohol or tobacco.(4)" Dr Rosenthal also warns that lax regulatory measures may fuel the painkiller epidemic, already effecting nearly 2% of Americans as reported by the National Institute of Drug Abuse.(5)

Last year, researchers at the Yale School of Medicine analyzed national survey data, connecting the juvenile use of alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis to future painkiller abuse.(6) According to the study’s author, Dr. Lynn Fiellin, the research set out to “demonstrate how the emerging epidemic of prescription opioids is a major issue that the general population doesn’t recognize,” and highlights the gateway risk of early marijuana use and painkiller dependency.

The Yale study showed juvenile use of cannabis nearly doubled an individual’s likelihood of painkiller abuse. While alcohol and tobacco have gateway tendencies as well, studies found significantly less correlation between alcohol and tobacco and future painkiller abuse, as compared to adolescent marijuana use.

Dr. Rosenthal continues, "The public perception of cannabis as a gateway drug has been instilled into the American populace through in-school drug awareness programs, but the details of this ‘gateway’ link are complex, contested, and poorly understood. In sum, the gateway drug theory suggests that the casual use of less harmful substances like alcohol, tobacco and cannabis may condition the mind towards addictive behavior, creating an increased risk of more serious drug abuse.

"Many regard the legalization of cannabis as a necessary eventuality. To be sure, the war on drugs is hurting America." According to the drug policy alliance, 660,000 Americans were arrested for the possession of cannabis in 2012. Two thirds of individuals incarcerated from these offenses were black or latino and the war on drugs costs the American taxpayer more than $51 billion annually.(7) Dr. Rosenthal summarizes, "The statistics abound. But without prudent consideration of the proven risks of marijuana access, I warn that legalization platforms may act as gateways to painkiller addiction.

"The painkiller epidemic is rooted in a deficit of pharmacological alternatives in pain management. While effective and unmatched in potency, opioids like Lortab or Oxycontin present side effects including dependency and withdrawal. The FDA reports that traditional research aims to overcome this pharmacological roadblock through development of specialized opioids and improved means of delivery, but these developments often lead to new opportunities for abuse.(8)"

"Nexus Vitale’s Ritiro Total withdrawal system was designed in response to the deficit of non-opiate alternatives in clinical addiction practice," Dr. Rosenthal conludes. "The Ritiro system engages a potent combination of medical herbs to help reduce the discomfort of opiate withdrawal, a common barrier to rehabilitation. Recent research, performed by various university professors in the US and China, shows that herbal treatment alternatives may be the most effective source of opiate-free withdrawal support.(9)"

(1) Nexus Vitale, 2/2014 -
(2) PBS, 11/2011 -
(3) YouGov, 1/10/2014 -
(4) Yale Daily News, 9/4/2012 -
(5) National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1/2014 -
(6) National Institute on Drug Abuse, 8/2011 -
(7) The Drug Policy Alliance, 1/2014 -
(8) U.S. Food & Drug Administration, 7/2005 -
(9) Academic Paper, "Traditional Medecine in the Treatment of Drug Addiciton", Lin Liu et. al, 2009 -