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Could Cannabis Help the Ohio Opioid Epidemic?

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There are many areas of the United States that are struggling with opioid and heroin epidemics, and Ohio is one state that is definitely in the thick of it, and the epidemic there shows no signs of ending anytime soon.  In fact, it seems like there are news stories every day about addiction and overdose on opioids which begs the question: could cannabis help the Ohio opioid epidemic (both in Ohio and in other states)?

As reported by The Washington Post:

Drug overdoses have led to a spike in the number of bodies coming to the Stark County [Ohio] morgue — an increase of about 20 percent in the last year. The additional bodies led to the need for more space, so the coroner’s office borrowed a trailer from the state until it gets caught up.

“I’ve been involved in public safety for 40 some years; I remember the drug problem we had in the late ’60s and early ’70s when I joined the department,” Rick Walters [an investigator for the Stark County coroner’s office]said. “The fatality numbers are nothing even close to this.”

Last year, the coroner’s office processed about 500 deaths, more than 100 of which were drug-related, Walters said.

These numbers don’t lie!  But neither do the numbers in the few studies that have been done about using cannabis to cure opioid addiction.  All of the reports and studies done so far lay an important foundation to push for more studies and information regarding the possible therapeutic use and benefits of cannabis for a variety of reasons, and particularly opioid addiction.

As TWB recently reported, Addiction Biology performed a study on this topic in 2017.  Their findings concluded that cannabidiol (CBD) was shown to inhibit certain effects of morphine in rats. These effects create what are called “brain reward mechanisms” that are partially responsible for the sense of well-being one gains from opioids and the desire to seek out more.

Additionally, The Journal of Neuroscience did a study that demonstrated that CBD helped to normalize impairment induced by heroine, which can reduce craving and desire for the drug. Then, among the few human studies the group has also done is a pilot study that showed that CBD can reduce cravings for heroin for up to a week after administering.

The initial study done by The Journal of Neuroscience was done back in 2009. That is how long this research has been going on!!!  Isn’t it time for more clinical trials?!?  We could be saving so many lives each day, including the many that are being lost due to the Ohio opioid epidemic.

However, until the federal government removes marijuana from its status as a Schedule I drug we are very limited in what kind of testing and research we can do.  In order to establish the necessary evidence, the government needs to do something that will allow for the use of cannabis in research. This is appalling to many of us, since it is legal (and takes very little effort) to go and get a prescription for an opioid pharmaceutical, but cannabis is still illegal and very difficult to get safe access to in many of the United States.

Until cannabis is descheduled and we are able to do more research, the Ohio opioid epidemic and other states with with similar problems are left with limited, and potentially far less effective, treatment options, begging the question: Could cannabis help the opioid epidemic?

 

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About Author

Leah Maurer

Leah Maurer is the happily married mom of 3 young boys in Portland, Oregon. She is a co-owner of The Weed Blog and contributes regularly to the site. Leah also serves as the Branding and Outreach Manager for Yerba Buena Farms, the first recreational licensed cannabis cultivation farm in Oregon. A cannabis legalization activist, she hopes to see the prohibition of cannabis end on a federal level, and to see the cannabis conversation normalized across America.

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