Marijuana and the opioids crisis: can a '' gateway drug ' end up being an ' exit drug '?

April 1, 2019 by erfa5t8

Legalization challengers call marijuana a “gateway drug” that leads users to more harmful compounds. However could it likewise be an “exit drug” that assists alleviate the opioids crisis?

The data is scarce, however the anecdotes abound.

After more than a decade in the United States air force, Jennifer Baxter required foot surgical treatment. It wasn’t successful, and she needed to have 2 more treatments to remedy her “significantly damaged, unpleasant and mechanically incorrect foot”.

Baxter had had surgeries prior to, and had actually taken opioids to recover. However, as she tells it, this time she got in touch with a civilian physician understood for his generosity with pain medication.

After getting a medical retirement, Baxter was recommended her 600 tablets a month, including 480 oxycodone (a generic variation of the opioid OxyContin), she stated.

Soon the month’s oxycodone lasted only 21 days. She lost her profession, got an unhealthy amount of weight and contemplated suicide. “I was enjoying the clock all the time every day for 3 and a half years,” she said.

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She heard medical cannabis may be useful and started using it in spring 2016. Stabilizing it with the slow-release morphine to stave off the signs of opioid withdrawal, she quit tablets completely in numerous months.

Today Baxter, 40, has a new life. She is engaged to be wed. She volunteers with rescue animals and is associated with her church. She has lost weight and resides in Arizona, where she can legally get medical cannabis for her discomfort, PTSD and insomnia. She takes it nighttime and sometimes throughout the day.

In 2017, a record 47,600 Americans died of opioid overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Avoidance. The grim tally represents an increase of more than 10% from 2016, the previous record year. More Americans die from opioid overdoses than auto accident or gunshots.

In 2017, a record 47,600 Americans died of opioid overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


In 2017, a record 47,600 Americans died of opioid overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Avoidance. Illustration: George Wyleso/The Guardian

Almost no one thinks about marijuana to be as crippling for individuals or society. But legalization activists and the market have actually marshalled anecdotal proof and personal testimonies to support the notion that marijuana can help people wean themselves off opioids.

Just like all issues surrounding medical cannabis, there’s not much great data. Despite motivating stories like Baxter’s– I have actually heard great deals of them– there have been no official clinical trials to identify whether cannabis is an effective treatment for opioid addiction. And cannabis remains unproven as a sufficient replacement for opioids in dealing with chronic discomfort, which is how many addictions begin, often after vehicle or work-related accidents. In spite of public understandings, the proof for cannabis as a painkiller “is in fact weak and … filled with constraints”, the psychologist Jonathan M Stea composed just recently in Scientific American.

Nevertheless, research studies have consistently shown that in states where medical cannabis is legal, physicians write less opioid prescriptions and patients take in lower dosages of opioids. (One study launched in 2018 discovered proof that states with legal medical cannabis saw less prescriptions for weaker “schedule III” opioids but not the more addicting and powerful schedule II drugs.)

Regardless of the scarceness of information, the “exit drug” theory has actually resulted in frustrating assistance for medical marijuana research study amongst veterans. Numerous US states enable anybody with an opioid prescription to get a medical cannabis card.

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The interest in marijuana as a substitute for opioids comes as opioid makers deal with escalating scrutiny and legal difficulty. In March, a group of more 600 United States cities, counties and Native American people submitted a suit alleging that “eight individuals in a single household made the choices that triggered much of the opioid epidemic “. The household, the Sacklers, control Connecticut-based Purdue Pharmaceuticals, which introduced OxyContin in 1996.

The household denied the claims in a declaration.

Recently, Purdue and the Sackler household < a href="" class=” u-underline” > consented to pay $ 275m to settle a suit brought by the state of Oklahoma.

Whatever caused the opioid crisis, it is a deeply complex problem, one that couple of if any reliable observers believe will be eliminated by cannabis alone. And some reject the idea of employing a drug as a proper action to a drug crisis.

” When we are handling opioids as the single most significant health crisis this state has ever had, you are going to tell me legalizing more drugs is the answer?” New Hampshire’s Republican g overnor Chris Sununu said last fall. “Never.”


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