Monday, March 13, 2017

Cannabis shows promise in treating meth and opioid addiction

The International Journal of Drug Policy recently concluded a major Canadian based study into the effect of medicinal cannabis on pain management, tobacco use and prescription drug addiction. 63% of the 271 study participants reported that they managed pain more effectively with cannabis and preferred it to prescriptions pain medications. 30% of participants preferred cannabis to using highly addictive opioids. 12% of recipients had used cannabis to quit their tobacco addiction (Lucas, 2017).

In another review, The National Institutes of Health concluded that a "growing number of studies support a critical role (in addiction pathways) and provide further evidence that the cannabinoid system could be explored as a potential drug discovery target for treating addiction across different classes of stimulants" (Oliere, 2013).

 Studies, such as this one, are overturning the false belief that cannabis is a gateway to more potent drug addictions, and instead shows that medicinal cannabis is an effective and safe pain management treatment, helping sufferers avoid developing dangerous addictions to opioids and other pain medications while adequately relieving pain.

In a separate study, The National Academy of Sciences, found that there is no valid evidence connecting marijuana with increased usage of other illicit substances. As a result the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) was forced to remove unsubstantiated claims about marijuana being a gateway drug from its website.

This move is in line with a growing body of evidence substantiating the medicinal applications of cannabis for chronic pain and otherwise untreatable conditions. While smoking marijuana does not provide optimal dose or quality control, formulations based on Cannabinoid extracts and delivered as an oil, capsule, dermal patch or via metered inhaler show great promise with few if any side-effects.

As the peak medical practitioner body the AMA must now be under pressure to update its policy on medicinal cannabis and work with the TGA to support practitioner education and licensing, to meet the growing, medicinal demand.

Industry Expert: Elisabetta L. Faenza Co-founder – LeafCann


Lucas, Phillipe and Walsh, Zach, April 2017, Medicinal cannabis access, use, and substitution for prescription opioids and other substances: A survey of authorized medical cannabis patients,  The International Journal of Drug Policy, , Vol 42, pages 30 -35

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, 2017, The health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids: Current state of evidence and recommendations for research. Washignton, DC: The National Academies Press

Oliere, Staphanie, Jolette-Riopel, Antoine, Polvin, Stephane, Justras-Aswad, Didier, 2013 Modulation of the Endocannabinoid System; Vulnerability Factor and new Treatment Target for Stimulant Addiction, Semantic Scholar, Psychiatry, 2013
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