From 1999-2105 over 183.000 American citizens died from prescription opioid overdoses. This is an undeniable proof that the opioid crisis is a real emergency. Nevertheless, amidst the raging opioid epidemic, those who are seeking a solution relentlessly are ignoring one promising treatment, almost deliberately. Medical cannabis. When the Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (CARA) was put up for debate in 2016, the amendments to study medical cannabis were stripped out.
Neither studies which proved that medical cannabis eases the neuropathic pain, nor the National Institutes of Health which suggested that medical marijuana might have a role in reducing opioids commonly prescribed for pain had been taken into consideration.
Furthermore, some studies also showed that the number of deaths due to opioid overdose dropped in states where the use of cannabis for medical purposes is legal. It was also established that 80 percent of cannabis users gave up prescription pills. According to a study by Yuyan Shi, a public health professor at the University of California, San Diego, opioid dependence, and overdoses decreased significantly in medical cannabis states.
The National Academies of Science in January 2017 also published an in-depth review of scientific research about the health impacts of cannabis and cannabis-derived products. It found that one of the most promising areas in medical cannabis is for the treatment of chronic pain.
However, none of this matters to those who are making money off this such as Big Pharma. One Harvard analysis even goes so far as to state that Big Pharma is the principal culprit for America’s opioid addiction. In addition, a chart from an analysis published in the Annual Review of Public Health makes a pretty clear connection between drug makers and the opioid crisis. The chart actually showcases how the increase in opioid sales corresponds to opioid overdose deaths and drug treatment admissions.
Not long ago an experimental study showed exactly what cannabis does to treat opioid addiction. It blocks the opioid reward in the brain.
“This study sought to determine whether the cannabis constituent cannabidiol attenuates the development of morphine reward in the conditioned place preference paradigm. Separate groups of mice received either saline or morphine in combination with one of four doses of cannabidiol using three sets of drug/no-drug conditioning trials. After drug-place conditioning, morphine mice displayed robust place preference that was attenuated by 10 mg/kg cannabidiol. Further, when administered alone, this dose of cannabidiol was void of rewarding and aversive properties. The finding that cannabidiol blocks opioid reward suggests that this compound may be useful in addiction treatment settings.”
Thus, cannabidiol (CBD), an active ingredient in cannabis, has even more significant medical benefits since it does not make people feel “stoned”. So, avid cannabis prohibitionists can’t build a case against CBD. This natural compound can even be extracted from hemp, which can be grown as a renewable source for raw materials introduced into many products. In addition, its seeds and flowers are regularly used in healthy foods and organic body care.
Since people can’t get high from it, cannabidiol extracts are allowed for medical use in prohibitionist states such as Oklahoma and Utah, as a form of treatment for children with intractable epilepsy.
Many states are still hesitant when it comes to approving opioid addiction as a valid reason for prescribing medical cannabis. Big Pharma, having already secured the government’s support, has undeniably taken measures via state governments to prevent cannabis from threatening their profits. This succeeded in Arizona which voted against legalization of cannabis.
The new study on CBD and its ability to block opioid reward will definitely pave the way for future research. Hopefully, this along with statistical data from medical cannabis states will finally prove to people that it’s irrational to block cannabis for opioid addiction treatment.