Far too many of us know someone who has fallen victim to drug abuse. The opiate epidemic has hit the northern Atlanta suburbs especially hard. These days, people are prescribed opiate painkillers far too frequently, and this opens the door to opiate addiction, a situation which can rapidly spiral out of control. We need a multifaceted approach to combating this scourge and that is what I plan to bring to the table.

First and foremost, we must recognize that addiction is an illness that must be treated. Imprisoning people has not helped reduce the rates of addiction, so it is time to try a new approach. We must work with local health centers and rehabilitation facilities to ensure that all those suffering from addiction have a place they can go to get back on the right track. Programs such as needle exchanges, while certainly far from ideal, can also help to reduce the rates of infectious disease in our communities, a problem directly related to intravenous drug abuse.

But it is not enough to simply treat those who have become addicted, we must also work to prevent addiction in the first place. We must reduce the rates at which opiate painkillers are prescribed, and one of the best ways to do this is to expand Georgia’s medical marijuana program. Studies have shown marijuana and the nonpsychoactive CBD oil are effective painkillers and can replace opiates in many instances. Furthermore, marijuana is less addictive than opiates and it is practically impossible for an individual to overdose on marijuana.

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