One group is giving cannabis edibles to reduce opioid consumption

Published Nov 19, 2020 02:00 p.m. ET
iStock / HighGradeRoots

Is it as crazy as it sounds, or is it truly one of the best ideas that have been tried so far? It seems that people, in general, are somewhat divided on the subject, and we'll get to that. Still, one group is putting the theory into action because they wholeheartedly believe in it by gifting cannabis edibles to those who could use them the most.

Is this happening?

We're watching this unfold live as the East Coast Cannabis Substitution Program gives out over 200 cannabis grab bags each week across Halifax. There, the ECCSP is working with local agencies to get in touch with individuals who use drugs of all sorts. Still, the program's supporters say that the most problematic drugs among this particular group are opioids.

How it works

The East Coast Cannabis Substitution Program does fantastic work. Still, they would be able to do it without the help of contributors, as everything that is sorted into the cannabis grab bags is donated. After valuable items come in, volunteers work hard to sort and package just over 200 packages every single week. From there, they are delivered and distributed to participants who qualify for the assistance, and it's not only cannabis edibles that arrive.

Each week, the contents of the cannabis kits change, as they are forced to work within the confines of donated goods, but for the most part, they seem to include everything that a cannabis starter kit should. Inside, participants might find a DIY joint-rolling kit, edibles, flowers, and other useful accessories, and it's all thanks to the generosity of others.

The program coordinators hope that participants will choose to use the provided cannabis over other more deadly street drug alternatives such as opioids. Of course, they also recognize that there is no way to tell for sure just how many are successfully avoiding harder drugs. However, they firmly believe that the project is working because many of them learned how to treat addiction to opioids using cannabis through personal experience.

Who benefits?

The misuse of opioids alone costs the taxpayer millions of dollars each year, be it through emergency calls or required stays, and it comes with a price of far too many lives to want to count. Suppose this theory is correct, and having access to cannabis discourages more problematic drug use. In that case, virtually everyone can benefit from programs like what the East Coast Cannabis Substitution Program is offering. The vulnerable target population is illicit drug users, but in the end, efficient intervention options like this can help make society as a whole better.


Concern over effectiveness

Not everyone is convinced of the potential of a handful of cannabis edibles as a viable treatment for addiction. Some doctors are worried that their patients will stop taking prescribed, approved, and proven treatments for addiction in exchange for an unproven alternative, but those who are speaking up against this trial, aren't exactly known for their complementary views on cannabis.

Proof that it works

There may not be a way to measure the effectiveness of this particular program, but we do know that pot works to treat addiction thanks to years of dedication and research from doctors and experts on the topic. This study shows that access to prescribed cannabis lowers the rate of misuse of opioids, and this one seemed to indicate that cannabinoids can be a huge help for patients who are battling cravings for opioids, one of the most addictive drugs on the market today.

A global initiative

Cannabis might not be the best solution for everyone who is addicted to opioids, but the research is detailed, and the evidence is impossible to deny. In regions that are adopting harm reduction strategies, a program that gifts cannabis to battle addiction might not be as crazy as it sounds right now. Someday, we might see this trend take over all around the globe, which statistically could lead to a significant decrease in the number of lives that are destroyed by drugs each year, and that benefit alone makes the cost of this sort of movement more than worth it.

CBD shows promising results as an aid to combat addiction


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