Now that we have officially cleared up something pot smokers have known forever—that weed is not a gateway drug—it turns out, the reverse might be true.
A new study done at the University of British Columbia (UBC), suggests that drug users—particularly those addicted to opioids and alcohol—could benefit from using marijuana as a reverse “stepping stone” away from more dangerous substances.
“Research suggests that people may be using cannabis as an exit drug to reduce use of substances that are potentially more harmful, such as opioid pain medication,” said Dr. Zach Walsh, UBC associate professor and lead researcher in the study.
“In reviewing the limited evidence on medical cannabis, it appears that patients and others who have advocated for cannabis as a tool for harm reduction and mental health have some valid points,” Walsh continued. “With the end of prohibition, telling people to simply stop using may no longer be as feasible an option, so knowing how to consider cannabis in the treatment equation will become a necessity.”
Walsh and his team reviewed all studies of medical cannabis and mental health, as well as reviews on non-medical cannabis use—making the review one of “the most comprehensive on the topic to date,” according to a UBC release.
The study also found that, according to evidence, “cannabis use does not appear to increase risk of harm to self or others.”
“There is currently not a lot of clear guidance on how mental health professionals can best work with people who are using cannabis for medical purposes,” said Walsh, whose team included three others at UBC, Florida State University, California’s National Centre for PTSD and the Center for Innovation and Implementation.
The team found evidence that cannabis could be helpful in treating the symptoms of social anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
The results of the study was published recently in the academic journal Clinical Psychology Review.