In the wake of the opioid crisis, desperate patients who suffer from chronic pain are looking elsewhere for relief. Lawmakers say that many in Tennessee are turning to methamphetamine and marijuana for relief instead.

Meth has been particularly problematic. Since 2010, when the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) started keeping track of submissions to its drug lab for testing, the number of cases involving marijuana has stayed within a fairly narrow range. Meanwhile, the cases involving suspected methamphetamine use or possession have increased dramatically since 2014 — outright eclipsing marijuana cases (by several thousand) for the first time in 2019.

Maybe that’s why the state’s representatives are considering allowing individual counties to control whether or not to legalize recreational marijuana, including allowing grow operations, manufacturing and sales. They’re also thinking about decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of the drug throughout the state. House Bill 1610, introduced by Representative Rick Staples, would do both — if it makes it through to become law.

Marijuana as medicine has been largely accepted around the nation (with a few exceptions). Some states and individual jurisdictions have also either legalized the drug for recreational use by adults or decriminalized it. That’s only good sense, especially if law enforcement wants to have the resources to go after meth and other far more dangerous drugs on the black market.

It’s important to remember that the opiate addiction crisis hasn’t been resolved. It’s just transformed into a new shape. If pain patients don’t find relief in legal substances, they may feel compelled to go with illegal drugs. If your pain problem or pain medication addiction led to your arrest for drug possession, find out what it takes to mount a successful defense.