Despite its longtime reputation from detractors as a “gateway drug,” one of the nation’s most prominent doctors claims that cannabis could have quite the opposite affect. Dr. Mehmet Oz, better known as simply Dr. Oz, not only believes cannabis should NOT be considered a gateway drug, but that it actually could serve as an “exit drug” when it comes to opioid addiction.
During an appearance on Fox News on Tuesday morning, Dr. Oz came to the defense of medical marijuana, while blasting its opponents.
“The real story is the hypocrisy around medical marijuana,” Oz said. “People think it’s a gateway drug to narcotics. It may be the exit drug to get us out of the narcotic epidemic.”
Oz also criticized the current scheduling of cannabis by the federal government. He claimed that since it is considered a Schedule I narcotic, it’s difficult for researchers to get a full gauge on its potential benefits.
“We’re not allowed to study it because it’s a Schedule I drug, and I personally believe it could help,” Oz explained.
Under the Controlled Substance’s Act, qualifiers for Schedule I status are reserved for “drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” according to the DEA. With proven medicinal benefits in addition to its non-addictive qualities, cannabis has time and again proven it’s not fit for either category.
For further reference, oxycodone, fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamine are all classified as Schedule II drugs, while cannabis remains on the Schedule I spectrum.
Last Thursday, the California Assembly voted 60-10 to declassify cannabis as a Schedule I drug. In doing so, it became the first state ever to formally request the federal government to make the change.
Final Hit: Dr. Oz Calls Weed an ‘Exit Drug’ to Help Solve the Opioid Crisis
This isn’t the first time Dr. Oz has advocated for medicinal cannabis. On an episode of his show, back in 2015, Oz spoke about how it could be a safer alternative to opioids when it comes to relieving chronic pain.
Dr. Oz isn’t the only recent proponent of medicinal cannabis as an alternative to opioids. Last week, Sen. Orrin Hatch also suggested cannabis as a safer alternative to prescription opioids.
Additionally, there is plenty of research to prove medicinal cannabis can help treat opioid addiction, or even prevent it all together.
While there are plenty still clinging to the “gateway addiction” theory, it has repeatedly proven to be untrue. Denise Kandel introduced the popular line of thinking over 40 years ago, but has since debunked it herself. However, if prominent figures like Dr. Oz continue to get up at-bat for medicinal cannabis, perhaps we can see a widespread change of its stigma sooner, rather than later.