Cannabis does NOT help people quit opioids despite hopes that legalizing the drug will reduce the crisis depending on the US, the study claims
- Researchers at McMaster University in Ontario reviewed six more studies
- They found no evidence that cannabis could help people in addiction programs
- Scientists hope legalization will reduce prescription painkillers in US
According to researchers, medical cannabis is not effective in helping people get off powerful opioids.
Marijuana advocates argue that the drug can reduce people's reliance on painkillers and even help addicts recover.
Scientists have argued that opioid prescriptions have declined in states that have legalized cannabis, with suggestions that it is as good for painkillers.
But research has now dismissed the claims, with experts saying there is no evidence that cannabis use makes people less likely to use opioids.
Using cannabis during a methadone opioid withdrawal program did not increase one's chances of succeeding and did not diminish how many people took opioid drugs, according to research (stock image)
"There is limited evidence that cannabis use can reduce the use of opioids in pain management," said Dr. Zainab Saman, of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
And some high profile organizations have suggested that cannabis is an "outlet" for illicit opioid use.
"But we have found no evidence suggesting that cannabis helps patients with opioid withdrawal stop opioid use."
Opioids include drugs such as heroin, morphine, tramadol, codeine, oxycodone and fentanyl.
OPTOIDS IN AMERICA: FROM THE NUMBER
Prescriptions for opioids are down in the US, but not overdoses.
Last year, the death rate from opioid overdose reached a record high, with about 200 Americans dying every day, according to new figures released by the DEA in July.
US Health Secretary Alex Azar insists the tide has turned this year.
However, doctors warn that the prescription boom has flooded the market with unused pills, some of which may have made it to the black market.
An in-depth analysis of US overdose data in 2016 shows that the overdose epidemic in America is spread geographically and is increasing across demographic groups.
Drug overdose killed 63,632 Americans in 2016.
Nearly two-thirds of these deaths involve a prescription or illicit opioid. Overdose deaths have increased across all categories of drug tested in men and women, people aged 15 and over, all races and ethnicities, and across all levels of urbanization.
The Orange County health agency found that there were 88% of drug overdose deaths between 2000 and 2015.
Half of these deaths are due to accidental overdose with prescription drugs. Seven out of every 10 overdose deaths between 2011 and 2015 include opioids.
Source: CDC, Orange County Health Agency
They are one of the most powerful painkillers in the world, and the United States is currently in a crisis of prescription drugs, with millions attached to them.
Research suggests that legalizing marijuana will lead to fewer prescriptions for opioids and reduced dependence.
A study published in the journal Internal AAMA Medical, for example, found that the number of prescription opioids filled under Medicare Part D fell by 2.21 million doses a year in states where medical marijuana became available.
But Dr Samaan and her colleagues looked at six studies of more than 3,600 people who looked at the effects of cannabis use during methadone maintenance therapy and found that different groups of people were affected.
Methadone has similar effects as heroin, but it is weaker and is used to help addicts avoid stronger drugs without such extreme withdrawal symptoms.
In their review, the team found that people used cannabis during withdrawal treatment, did not use less opioids.
It also did not make them go beyond their treatments to the end.
The research was published in the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association.
The following is a study published by Columbia University in the summer that analyzed the results of a survey of about 70,000 Americans.
The data showed that people who started using medical marijuana after it was legalized did not tend to be the same people who abused opioid drugs.
Dr Sylvia Martins, an epidemiologist from Colombia, said at the time: "The hypothesis generated by these studies is that after the adoption of the medical marijuana law, health professionals would be more likely to prescribe medical marijuana rather than opioid drugs; the chances of individuals abusing prescription opioids and developing consequences.
"We tested this link and found no evidence that the adoption of medical marijuana laws – even in states with dispensaries – is associated with a reduction in individual prescription opioid use for non-medical purposes."