For decades, marijuana has been called a ‘gateway’ drug meaning it leads to harder drugs. However, gates swing both ways. Weed may also be the way for hard drug users to re-enter society on a milder, less invasive drug. Unlike heroin, opiates or methamphetamine which eventually consume a user’s life and talents, cannibas has been shown to be used casually without serious side effects or fallout. That is assuming it is legal at the time and place of use.
What if the marijuana plant contains chemicals that might help a user avoid or get off the opiods? The Society for Neurosciences witnessed presentations that suggest the cannabis plant could become a source of drugs for fighting addiction.The Scripp’s Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., reported on preliminary research showing that a non-psychoactive marijuana constituent, cannabidiol, can quell urges for cocaine in rats trained over three months to compulsively crave a drug.
Researchers allowed rats to dose themselves at-will with cocaine until they became addicted. At the end of the period, they gave some of the animals transdermal patches that provided an infusion of cannabidiol. Rats that received the patches reduced cocaine intake, whereas the ones that didn’t continued to consume as much cocaine as before. Miguel Hernandez, researcher at the University in Spain, reported on an initial study showing that cannabidiol reduced alcohol consumption, as well as the desire to drink and any impulse toward relapse.
Another possible measure being discussed would be to use THC to steer pain sufferers away from opioids. A chemical in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), can alleviate pain but it also makes the user high. Researchers found a possible way to treat neuropathic pain-the kind produced by nerve damage.
Marijuana is chemically complex, and the plant’s therapeutic potential comes laden with entanglements. Pot ingredients may reduce cravings for some drugs but they may also produce dependence on their own.
All of this attention comes on the heels of multiple states legalizing sales and use of cannabis products. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) have a stronghold on research by maintaining that cannabis is still federally illegal in all 50 states.
State by state decisions are being made about the sale, distribution and growing of cannabis. With multiple states trying the experiment, positive results are coming in through increased tax revenue, reduced domestic abuse calls, less alcohol-related issues and DUI arrests. This innocent plant may regain its innocence.