FEB 28, 2024 5:00 AM PST

Study Shows Cannabis Can Potentially Combat Cravings for Street Drugs

WRITTEN BY: Kerry Charron

Researchers at the University of British Columbia found that cannabis can potentially offer an effective harm reduction strategy in combatting the opioid overdose crisis. A study published in Addictive Behaviors found that using cannabis is associated with decreased use of crystal methamphetamine among chronic meth users.

The University of British Columbia research team surveyed 297 individuals concurrently using cannabis and illicit drugs, such as opioids and stimulants, in the past six months.  The research team used logistic regression models to examine the association between participants’ cannabis consumption to limit stimulant cravings and their self-reported changes in the frequency of stimulant use. Roughly 45% of the participants reported cannabis use reduced the urge to use stimulant drugs. Stimulant drugs such as powder cocaine, crack cocaine, and meth amphetamines are highly addictive and potentially lethal.  

The researchers observed a significant decrease in crystal methamphetamine use among people with the highest risk of overdose in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. However, they did not find a significant association for crack cocaine users. 

Study author Dr. Hudson Reddon explained, “Our findings are not conclusive but do add to the growing scientific evidence that cannabis might be a beneficial tool for some people who want to better control their unregulated stimulant use, particularly for people who use crystal meth.” The researchers believe cannabinoid treatments could lead to harm reduction strategies among drug users. A few drug treatment centers are using cannabis as an exit drug for crystal meth addiction. Although this strategy is controversial, emerging studies are indicating that cannabis consumption can help drug users wean off more dangerous drugs. 

The study is part of a series of studies examining the potential role of cannabis in the overdose crisis at the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use. The findings emphasize the need for more extensive research studies that will shed light on how medical cannabis can help minimize the damage caused by the opioid crisis.

Sources: Addictive Behaviors, Eureka News Alert, The University of British Columbia


About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Kerry Charron writes about medical cannabis research. She has experience working in a Florida cultivation center and has participated in advocacy efforts for medical cannabis.
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