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Previewing The Score: Riggleman suggests marijuana as “exit drug” for opioid addiction

Tonight the PBS Newshour profiled Representative Denver Riggleman [1], capping what must have been a busy day for the freshman Republican Member of Congress from Virginia’s Fifth District.

Denver Riggleman opioids Virginia Fifth DistrictThat day included a floor speech [2] on Microsoft’s investment in Southside Virginia, announcing sponsorship of a bill to promote rural infrastructure development (H.R. 2391 [3]), an early morning press conference on another bill on funding state and tribal programs to combat opioid addiction, and a telephone interview on that last topic for The Score from Bearing Drift.

Riggleman is cosponsor with Representatives David Trone (D-Maryland), Kelly Armstrong (R-North Dakota), and Mikie Sherrill (D-New Jersey) of legislation aimed at providing flexibility to state governments as they address addiction problems. In our interview, he describes the impetus behind the bill and what it would do. He noted that the bill resulted from discussions within the Freshman Working Group on Addiction (chaired by Representative Trone).

I asked him about reports that show how states that have legalized marijuana also have reductions in opioid addiction and deaths due to overdoses.

He replied:

We’ve been talking about … marijuana as an exit drug from opioids. I met with a veterans group yesterday that [is] looking to try to help veterans with PTSD, but also drug addictions, to use marijuana as an exit drug or to help them cope. And it’s something I’m going to be looking at intensely based on the research for veterans. We’re looking at marijuana as an exit drug from this crisis, and especially even for pain management or even for PTSD.

There are so many things we’re looking at on the research side with this working group to see how we can utilize everything in our arsenal to stop this addiction crisis that’s happening right now.

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That’s just a small portion from this morning’s more lengthy interview with Congressman Riggleman.

The full conversation will be included in this weekend’s episode of The Score, which will also feature interviews with Dr. Sarah Boggs, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Virginia, on measles; Alexander Hammond, senior fellow at African Liberty, on free trade in Africa; Cato Institute senior fellow Mustafa Akyol, on liberalism and Islam; and journalist Jacob Rich, who has written about the opioids epidemic for Reason magazine, Washington Examiner, and other publications. There may be other surprises, as well; this afternoon I recorded an interview with University of South Florida historian David K. Johnson which (for reasons of length) may have to be postponed until our May 11 podcast episode.

Watch this space Saturday morning or listen to the broadcast on WINC-AM&FM in Winchester to hear the rest of The Score.