Dr. Oz: Marijuana May Be The 'Exit Drug' for Opioid Crisis

By Paul Gaita 09/21/17

"People say marijuana is a gateway drug to narcotics; it may be the exit drug to get us out of the narcotic epidemic."

Dr. Oz

During an appearance on Fox & Friends, surgeon and television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz voiced his support for medical marijuana as a solution to the national opioid problem.

Oz, who was a guest on the Fox News Channel program to promote an upcoming interview with Ivanka Trump on the September 21 episode of his syndicated program The Dr. Oz Show, injected his comments into the discussion shortly before Fox & Friends broke for a commercial, and appeared to leave co-host Steve Doocy—who has made dismissive comments regarding marijuana and legalization efforts in the past—taken aback.

Oz's comments on the Fox News program were not the first time he has expressed positive views in regard to marijuana as an alternative treatment for chronic pain and opioid addiction.

Oz's appearance on the September 19 edition of Fox & Friends was anchored by a preview of his interview with Ivanka Trump, daughter and White House counsel to President Donald Trump, in which they discussed her experiences with postpartum depression.

The conversation dovetailed into stress at both the personal and national levels, with Fox & Friends host Ainsley Earhardt questioning whether the country had "[gotten] sick of the negativity" that has become a part of political and cultural discussions. Her co-host, Brian Kilmeade, mentioned the opioid epidemic as an apparent transitional point to lead into a commercial, which is when Oz spoke up about marijuana.

"The real story is the hypocrisy around medical marijuana," Oz said. "People think it's a gateway drug to narcotics. It may be the exit drug to get us out of the narcotic epidemic." His comments appeared to leave the Fox hosts speechless, save for Doocy, who uttered, "Wow!"

Oz then continued by attacking the Drug Enforcement Administration's decision to label marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance on par with heroin and LSD. "We're not allowed to study it because it's a Schedule I drug, and I personally believe it could help," Oz stated before Doocy brought the segment to a close by saying, "I hadn't heard that before." 

While Oz's comments brought attention to the medical marijuana argument, not all advocates are in favor of the TV host's statements. Oz has drawn criticism in the past for promoting unproven medical treatments, such as green coffee bean extract. Oz's support of such products also earned a dressing-down from Senator Claire McCaskill during a 2014 Commerce subcommittee meeting on false claims in advertising.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.