A recent collaborative study done by researchers from San Francisco, Los Angeles and Denver took a look at cannabis use amongst opiate users, and reached some interesting conclusions that could help the case for statewide and nationwide legalization.
One of the main deterrents in the past for policy makers regarding the legalization of cannabis is the lack of medical research available compared to other medicinal plants and drugs. Once it became glaringly obvious that cannabis is perfectly safe, policy makers still need see research on whether or not nationwide cannabis use will negatively impact the nation’s existing substance abuse problems: alcoholism, opioid addiction, nicotine and to a lesser extent, caffeine addiction. Basically, health officials are concerned over whether increased access to cannabis will worsen someone’s drinking, drug or cigarette addictions.
Good news, preliminary evidence already shows that cannabis use is associated with less alcohol consumption, and more recently, also associated with lesser opioid consumption.
Researchers interviewed hundreds of opiate users from San Francisco and Los Angeles and asked them how frequently they consumed cannabis. After correcting for a number of variables, they found that “the mean and median number of times opioids were used in past 30 days were significantly lower for people who used cannabis than those who did not use cannabis in the past 30 days.”
The experiment couldn’t prove that cannabis caused people to use less opiates, but it opens up a new alleyway for research. Access to cannabis not only might make people use less hard drugs, but also might help people quit drugs by combatting addiction mechanisms in the brain. Furthermore, scientists are slowly discovering the synergistic pain-relieving effects of combing opiates and cannabinoids. This may one day allow doctors to prescribe lower doses of opiates by combining them with THC. A lower dose of opiates means less addictive pharmaceuticals, and a smaller chance the patient will go on to seek hard drugs.