Former addicts say legal pot not the answer to opioid abuse prob - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Former addicts say legal pot not the answer to opioid abuse problem

Ocean Springs Mayor-elect Shea Dobson says one way to reduce opioid abuse is to legalize medical marijuana. But those who witness addiction daily at a Jackson County faith-based rehab facility disagree. (Photo source: WLOX) Ocean Springs Mayor-elect Shea Dobson says one way to reduce opioid abuse is to legalize medical marijuana. But those who witness addiction daily at a Jackson County faith-based rehab facility disagree. (Photo source: WLOX)
JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

Ocean Springs Mayor-Elect Shea Dobson says one way to reduce opioid abuse is to legalize medical marijuana. But those who witness addiction daily at a Jackson County faith-based rehab facility disagree.

The men in Home of Grace's rehabilitation programs are all battling some form of addiction, from street drugs, to alcohol, to pills.

"I have a first-hand account of opioid addiction, but by the grace of God I'm still here," said Home of Grace client Chris Cuevas.  

So when Ocean Springs Mayor-Elect Shea Dobson posted a Facebook status suggesting medical marijuana as a solution to the rise in opioid abuse and overdose, they of course - wanted to chime in. Their consensus, it's not a good idea. 

"Basically, marijuana became a gateway drug for me to explore other things," Cuevas said.

It's the fear that they share, from experience, going from vice to vice, high to high. 

"It's a vicious cycle, I became a hamster in a cage," Cuevas said. 

And even though marijuana seems to be far less deadly, they say the addictive properties are the same across the board.

"You can get just as addicted to marijuana as the people on the opiates get addicted," said Home of Grace client Jeremy Easterling. 

Home of Grace Executive Director Josh Barton believes Dobson's post was made with good intentions. But based on his daily interactions with recovering addicts he sees the dangers.

"We're hesitant as an organization to go there because we know the floodgate that would follow," Barton said. 

 A floodgate that could potentially put even more people in his program.

"It's gonna start trying to help those that really need it, but we have not shown a good track record of really controlling the substances that we put on the market," Barton said. 

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