Beto O’Rourke made a big old pro-cannabis play during the Democrat primary debate on Monday. O’Rourke, who lost a senate race against Ted Cruz last year and will almost certainly lose the primary race next year, got into the importance of pot whilst discussing the opioid crisis.
To make the point that weed rules and opioids drool, O’Rourke told a story about a veteran he had met who became addicted to heroin after being prescribed painkillers for a health condition.
“Now imagine that veteran, instead of being prescribed an opioid, had been prescribed marijuana, because we made that legal in America [and] ensured the VA could prescribe it,” O’Rourke said.
The comment won O’Rourke kudos from many admirers including, endearingly, his competitor in the presidential primary race, Andrew Yang. After the shaggy unemployed Texan’s answer, Yang yelled out, “Preach, Beto!”
The discussion combines two important issues facing candidates in the coming election. One: cannabis, which every major democratic candidate has vowed to either legalize or decriminalize if elected.
And two: opioids. Amidst the devastating addiction crisis facing the nation, opioid manufacturers are facing mounting legal challenges. Three major pharmaceutical companies are currently in talksto settle opioid-related lawsuits to the tune of $18 billion.
Cannabis obviously isn’t the perfect substitute for opioids in every case. However, some studies have found that cannabis legalization is correlated to a reduction in opioid-related deaths.
Photo via Flickr user Erik Drost