Hundreds of drug addicts living in Massachusetts are now being treated with medical marijuana. Advocates of the treatment claim it to be a safer alternative to its deadly counterparts. They nevertheless face an uphill battle against skeptics, who feel that treating opioid addiction with the drug could have unforeseen consequences.
Dr. Gary Witman of Canna Care Docs, a network of facilities that owns nine clinics in Massachusetts alone, stated, “As soon as we can get people off opioids to a nonaddicting substance — and medicinal marijuana is nonaddicting — I think it would dramatically impact the amount of opioid deaths.”
While marijuana has shown to be largely non-addictive, studies have indicated that psychological dependence is nothing to scoff at. Whitman claims to have treated about 80 patients who were addicted to opioids, anxiety medications, and muscle relaxers with marijuana. He found that over 75% of patients stopped using the harder drugs after the one-month tapering program.
Marijuana is already used for many other medical purposes. It has proven to help cancer patients going through chemotherapy, and with alleviating symptoms of chronic pains. Yet doctors are wary of the idea of treating addicts without extensive follow-up treatment. Many also advise against spreading the use of the drug while its health effects are being researched. Still, it remains much less harmful than the ultra-addictive treatment options currently available to addicts, notably Methadone and Suboxone. At least in that regard, and granted Whitman’s result can be replicated, marijuana is preferable.