Can’t quit cannabis? What if there was a pill for that?

Published Mar 3, 2023 10:00 a.m. ET
Unsplash / danilo.alvesd

Researchers in the United States are investigating the potential of a new drug that may be used to treat cannabis use disorder (CUD) and assist those who want to reduce their dependence on cannabinoids.

Aelis Farma and Segal Trials the previous maker of AEF0117-202, and a private research firm with locations all over South Florida are beginning Phase 2B of a study on the drug, to investigate its effectiveness and safety as a treatment for those who want or need to quit cannabis.

With consumer rates on the rise, more pregnant women reporting cannabis use, what we know about the way so many have come to rely on THC, and its potential adverse effects on an individual's health, it only makes sense that we’re now seeing drugs like this one being thoroughly researched.

Frequent, heavy use of cannabis may lead to dependency

Regulators and the federal government of Canada acknowledge that frequent, consistent, or heavy use of cannabis may cause dependency and that some people have a harder time quitting than others. They also claim that one in three who use it or its derivatives may develop an issue with their consumption that makes it a detriment to their day-to-day lives.

Signs of cannabis use disorder

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), signs of cannabis use disorder may include:

  • Using more cannabis or higher doses than intended
  • Trying and failing to quit cannabis
  • Requiring higher doses to achieve the same effects
  • Giving up beneficial activities with family and friends in exchange for using cannabis
  • Using cannabis in high-risk situations (ie. Driving)

AEF0117-202 the first clinical candidate in a new pharmacological class of drugs


Segal Trials refers to AEF0117-202 as the world’s first potential treatment for those who use cannabis regularly (5-7 days a week). The company hopes to prove the benefits of this new therapy by administering it and a placebo to a controlled group of subjects while tracking the responses of participants. The trial is set to take place at its Center for Psychedelic and Cannabis Research.

Millions have been diagnosed with CUD

The principal investigator of the AEF0117-202 study is a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, and he’s gone on record to say that excessive cannabis consumption habits are on the rise, particularly in Western countries. According to available data, as many as 14.2 million Americans have already been diagnosed with cannabis use disorder, and as legalization spreads, this number is only expected to grow over time.

There are currently no effective treatment options for those who suffer from CUD

There are no approved pharmacological treatments available for those who want to quit using cannabis, so this latest research could be a game changer for those affected. If AEF0117-202 is approved for clinical use, it would be the first time ever consumers could have access to a pill that could help them to drop the habit for good. It could also be beneficial for those who would like to reduce their daily consumption and improve tolerance in medical patients who rely on the power of cannabinoids for relief from chronic pain, and symptoms of neurological conditions.

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