Cannabis As A Treatment for Opioid Addiction

For years, cannabis was demonized and thought to be as “bad” as other Schedule I controlled substances. Now, with many states allowing some sort of legal access, cannabis is being seen in a popular new light.  

In addition to the trendiness of cannabis, updated medical research and evidence supports cannabis as a treatment for addictions to heroin or other opioids.

The opioid epidemic has drastically impacted people all over the globe. As the Department of Health and Human Services puts it, “In 2018, an estimated 10.3 million people aged 12 or older misused opioids. Specifically, 9.9 million people misused prescription pain relievers and 808,000 people used heroin.” 

Dr. Yasmin Hurd, the Director of Addictions Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital, has been studying the effects of cannabis on opioids addicts. At first, with rats, then in small limited human tests that had similar results.

 Her research with cannabis has been proving, in small controlled tests, that cannabis can help with acute symptoms of opioid withdrawal like nausea, anxiety and other illnesses.

 According to Dr. Hurd’s September 2020 TED Talk, “CBD (cannabidiol) alters chemicals in the brain that regulates emotions and anxiety.” CBD can also help reduce the heroin-seeking behavior.

Hurd’s research shows that CBD reduces heroin triggers like anxiety and environmental triggers. Simply, it means CBD may assist heroin addicts by curbing cravings that usually lead to relapse.

Celebrity Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who was formerly opposed to CBD as a treatment for addiction, has changed his mind due to some of his own new research. Gupta’s current updated research focused on the benefits of cannabis.

Cannabis is no longer considered a gateway drug.

In states where medical cannabis has been approved, the number of opioid prescriptions decreased, as evidenced from an analysis published by JAMA Internal Medicine.

With more states approving cannabis for recreational or medical use, the House of Representatives approving decriminalization and days later approved medical cannabis research legislation, it is no longer too far-fetched to talk about cannabis as a tool for treating addictions to heroin and other opioids. We will find out more when Dr. Hurd concludes their research, which is estimated last through 2022 and will be covering large-scale human tests that will give us more insight on how cannabis CBD affects human heroin addiction.  

  A huge step would be removing cannabis from the Schedule I list. Now that there is no more “reefer madness,” this is the only thing in the way is for it to not be illegal and considered as serious as ecstasy, magic mushrooms, LSD and methamphetamine. 


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