In recent years, there has been a great deal of attention gathering around Cannabis and the Opioid crisis in Canada. Just in 2017, there were almost 4000 deaths due to opioid abuse in Canada, so it comes as no surprise that the country’s Ministry of Health is devoting time and resources to finding a way to resolve the problem. Moreover, research has shown that the medical properties of cannabis could make it one of the best alternatives to the existing opioid abuse treatments and could be the key to eliminating the crisis completely.
The Scripps Research Institute Study
In 2018, the Scripps Research Institute carried out a study into rats who were exposed to opioids for extended periods before being given CBD (cannabis’ non-psychoactive compound). The result was that the groups which were given the CBD showed a considerable reduction in their drug-seeking behavior, with less stress, anxiety and impaired control of impulses. Even when the CBD no longer was present in their system, the rats still showed improvement. When it comes to detoxification from opioids, CBD was also shown to reduce nausea, anxiety and convulsions experienced by those in withdrawal.
Research From The USA
There have been a number of studies published earlier in 2018 in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal which highlighted the way in which legal cannabis in a number of states in the USA led to reduced opiate use in the states in question. One of the studies looked at the way in which legislation which allowed people to use marijuana to treat a number of medical conditions appeared to be linked to a drop of 6% in opioid prescriptions for pain. Another study showed that Medicare patients who lived in legal states required 15% fewer opioid prescriptions than Medicare patients in other parts of the country.
How Can Cannabis Reduce Opioid Use?
Cannabis doesn’t only have a psychoactive effect. It can also have an impact on the systems in the human body which are responsible for the regulation of pain. When cannabis use is managed properly, it is effective in reducing chronic pain and thus reducing the need for opioid prescriptions.
Canada currently is the second biggest prescriber of opioids anywhere across the globe. Numbers have been escalating in recent years and now that the problem has reached crisis point, with huge numbers of overdoses and more people than ever before experiencing addiction, it’s no wonder that more doctors are starting to prescribe medicinal cannabis to patients experiencing chronic pain instead of the more traditional opioid drugs.
The Financial Implications
Although recent research has shown that cannabis could help to resolve Canada’s opioid dependency crisis, there are a number of financial barriers in place which prevent many of the people who are most in need from accessing the drug. At the present time, prescriptions for medicinal cannabis aren’t covered under the majority of insurance plans. Also, they are subjected to several sales taxes, which opioids are not. However, with legalization on the horizon for recreational purposes, it is hoped that cannabis could signal the end for Canada’s opioid crisis, or, at the very least, a significant reduction in the number of deaths from overdose.