The Case Against Banning Opioids

They may be dangerous but we can’t avoid them just yet

Kai M
4 min readOct 9, 2020


Illustration by me

With us being in the mist of an opioid pandemic (among other pandemics…) there is a large political push to ban them or at least significantly reduce the chances of people being prescribed these drugs. But doing this is actually extremely dangerous, and is (arguably) just another arm of the war on drugs. While banning opioids might stop new people from forming a dependence, it also prevents genuinely pain-ridden people from getting the treatment they need.

I believe the political position of banning opioids is morally bankrupt, and politically immature. Here’s why.

We have limited alternatives

We know opioids are dangerous. We know they can ruin lives, both through addiction and dependance, and through overdoses and deaths. It is common knowledge that they can be insidious, but at the moment we have no sufficient alternatives to them, and so restricting prescribed usage is unethical. opioids are still one of the best painkillers we have, and until we find better solutions, we should not be limiting them.

There are regular discussions online about cannabis being a replacement to opioids , and while this is an idea that should definitely be entertained and explored by the medical and political world, it is not a direct replacement to opioids overall. Cannabis does not work for every type of pain. Cannabis has been documented, multiple times, to be unhelpful for chronic pain. Additionally, cannabis use may be dangerous for people who suffer from both physical pain and psychological disorders which can be exacerbated by cannabis use, such as bipolar, schizophrenia, and depersonalization.

That is not to entirely discredit cannabis as a painkiller; it has clearly shown itself to be extremely useful, but to think of it as a full alternative to opioids is short-sighted.

Banning opioids punishes those who need them

The case for banning opioids is often framed as an ethical decision to stop those who are addicted and dependant, and protect others from ever getting addicted. However this ignores the discomfort and pain that banning would cause those who genuinely…



Kai M

Studying psychedelia at /// Blockchain Ethicist (

Recommended from Medium