Can Marijuana Help The Opioid Crisis?
CBD, a compound of marijuana, is being researched as an alternative to opioids for chronic pain and opiate addiction. The interesting thing about CBD is that it doesn’t get you high. THC, another compound found in marijuana is what actually causes the high effect. Unfortunately, CBD is still labeled as high potential for abuse by the DEA.
In 2017, President Trump declared the opioid addiction epidemic a public health emergency citing it as the leading cause of lethal drug overdose in the same year. Many studies have already suggested marijuana as a good non-addictive alternative to opioids and chronic pain. Most recently CBD is being looked at as a viable and promising aid for opioids addicts. CBD may be able to reduce opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms in addicts.
Research done on rats has shown that CBD use decreases the chances of relapse and drug-seeking behavior. This, if true, could be a solution to the opioid addiction epidemic. CBD is available in gels, capsules, oils and sprays and is being used for things such as food and beauty. It also is being acknowledged as a treatment for anxiety, joint pain and cancer.
All these are great benefits of CBD. While it is legal medically in California, unfortunately, federally it is not legal and classified in the same drug category as heroin to the DEA. This makes it very difficult to study, as a license is required from the DEA as well as permission from the FDA to research on patients. This limits studies to rats, which have shown great results such as being able to possibly deter heroin seeking behavior, according to a study by the Addiction Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai .
The first step in CBD possibly being a solution to the opioid crisis is having it removed as a schedule 1 drug by the DEA. This would allow CBD research on human patients, which could confirm concrete healing properties of CBD.