A new look at some old research covering the medicinal effects of the cannabis plant shows that certain components of the herb could be a saving grace for those suffering from the grips of opioid addiction.
To date, there has not been a lot of relevant research conducted on this topic, mostly due to restrictions imposed by the federal government. However, there has been some anecdotal evidence to emerge over the past few years, suggesting that cannabinoids could hold the power to address the opioid epidemic currently spiraling out of control across the United States.
It is for this reason the scientific community has shown a newfound interest in putting the cannabis plant under a microscope.
Unfortunately, conducting this type of research is not exactly an easy task.
As it stands, the DEA considers any component of the cannabis plant to be a Schedule I dangerous drug under the Controlled Substances Act. This means old Uncle Same believes marijuana has absolutely no medicinal value and carries a high potential for abuse. So far, every attempt to downgrade the herb into a more functional classification has been an utter failure—making it extremely difficult for researchers to explore the true medicinal potential of the herb.
Yasmin Hurd, a neuroscientist at Mount Sinai, who recently conducted a review of some previous case studies, believes she has uncovered evidence that tells the tale of how marijuana, specifically the cannabidiol (CBD) compound, could remedy opioid addiction. One of the studies, published in a 2009 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, shows that CBD seems to diminish the cravings in heroin addicted rats. Another study, this one appearing in a 2015 issue of the journal Neurotherapeutics, also shows similar results.
In her review, which was published this week in the journal, Trends in Neurosciences, Hurd points out that this research “is not sufficient to make sweeping conclusions about the potential efficacy of CBD to inhibit heroin craving and drug use in addicted individuals.”
She concluded that it was absolutely imperative for more research to be conducted on this issue in order to properly understand the impact of the CBD compound on drug addicts.
“Epidemics require a paradigm shift in thinking about all possible solutions. The rapidly changing sociopolitical marijuana landscape provides a foundation for the therapeutic development of medicinal cannabidiol to address the current opioid abuse crisis,” the study reads.
Last month, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine published a report consisting of 24,000 scientific abstracts involving cannabinoids, which suggests there is enough evidence that cannabis has healing potential for the federal government to downgrade its Schedule I listing for the herb—a move that would allow researchers to finally roll up their sleeves and get to the bottom of the debate over whether marijuana is actually medicine.