CANNABIS CULTURE – No-fault insurance is a term you may not be familiar with if you don’t live in a no-fault state. To be clear, no-fault insurance covers you if you have been in an accident regardless of whether or not the accident was your fault. When accidents result in injuries, no-fault provides unlimited medical coverage for all “reasonably necessary” accident-related medical expenses. Thirteen states (including Puerto Rico) currently have no-fault insurance laws in the United States.
Depending on the state that you are in, certain alternative medications to opioids may not be covered under that state’s no-fault insurance laws. Medical cannabis is one such alternative medication that is not covered despite being able to treat inflammatory and neuropathic injuries. Even states like Michigan, which has legalized the medical use of marijuana, still do not cover the use of the drug after an accident.
If no-fault states (Florida, New Jersey, New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and 8 others) are serious about treating those who suffer from chronic pain, reforming no-fault insurance laws to cover alternative medications is crucial. In the midst of a national opioid crisis, continuing to prescribe opioids without giving alternatives a fighting chance does not make sense. How can the state and national elected officials that represent those in chronic pain fail to change statutes to include alternative medication to Oxycodone?
Barriers Cannabis Needs to Break to Become A Viable Substitute to Oxycodone
While states have decriminalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes, marijuana remains a Schedule I Drug under the Controlled Substances Act. This discrepancy puts physicians in a difficult situation. If they decide to prescribe medical marijuana to patients, they could face legal ramifications under federal law. In fact, there have been reports that certain physicians across the country have been delivered an ultimatum by DEA agents: sever ties with the medical marijuana industry or risk losing your DEA license.
This is the biggest obstacle medical cannabis faces to be used as a mechanism for treating chronic pain. Additional concerns include how the FDA would determine what dosage is appropriate for people who suffer from certain injuries and how people can conveniently access prescribed cannabis if there isn’t a dispensary located nearby. In Michigan, there are roughly 70 medical marijuana dispensaries.
Nearly all of these dispensaries are located in the southern half of the state. This means that if you live in Traverse City and were prescribed medicinal marijuana to treat chronic pain, you’d have to drive several hours to Grand Rapids to fill that prescription.
Critics of medical marijuana’s use as a substitute treatment claim that medical cannabis is no different from opioids in that it fails to treat the cause of the pain. The psychoactive effects (caused by tetrahydrocannabinol) is one of the main reasons why the use of medical marijuana is still controversial today. Prescribing cannabis that has a very small amount of THC could be a compromise for critics who dispute that the psychoactive element in cannabis detracts from solely treating pain.
When compared to opioids like hydrocodone and oxycodone, medical cannabis has an addiction rate that is much lower and causes significantly fewer overdoses than its counterparts. Implementing any one substitute won’t be a complete solution to solving the opioid state of emergency in the United States, but there is a bevy of evidence that suggests medical cannabis could be an appropriate substitute for inflammatory and centralized pain conditions like Fibromyalgia.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most widely accepted alternative approaches to managing pain without opioids. According to John Piette, who is a Professor of Health Behavior and Education at the University of Michigan, physicians know how dangerous opioids can be when prescribing them to patients with chronic pain. Piette went on to say that physicians “don’t feel they have alternatives to treating people with chronic pain.”
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy gets people to identify thoughts and/or feelings that may be increasing the pain they experience. This method can equip people with coping mechanisms to manage pain. Combining CBT with low dose medicinal cannabis may be an effective option for people who were in car accidents and whose central nervous systems were damaged in the process.
Car Accident Survivors Need A Contingency Plan
If you get into an accident in a no-fault state and would like to seek out alternative medication such as medical marijuana or cognitive behavioral therapy, your physician may find it difficult to do so. Even if you would like to try to manage pain through cognitive behavioral therapy, a person could wait up to nine months to get an appointment.
Cannabis is one option that needs to be considered to address the opioid epidemic in both no-fault and at-fault insurance states. Ultimately, identifying the root cause of chronic pain rather than subduing pain should be every physician’s goal.
About the Author: Steven M. Gursten is the managing partner at Michigan Auto Law. As a personal injury attorney, he understands the catastrophic effects painkillers can have on the lives of auto accident victims. Steve is a vocal proponent of offering injury victims safer pain relief alternatives.