The US Department of Health and Human Services reports that 2.5 million Americans are addicted to opioids, with 80 people dying daily because of opioid overdose. But CBD could end the opioid crisis?
Even the most conservative of states is willing to legalize medical marijuana as a safer, less addictive pain management option. Quartz.com looked into CBD as the alternative to opioids for a nation in pain.
Neurobiologist believes cannabis can solve opioid crisis
Yasmin Hurd, professor of neuroscience, psychiatry, and pharmacology at the medical school of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, is convinced. In her report published in Trends in Neuroscience, she says that legalization of marijuana could have a dramatic impact on opioid addiction. She encourages scientists to join in the cultural conversations on cannabis as the solution to pain and opioid addiction.
Hurd writes that an epidemic requires quantum shifts in thinking in order to find solutions. The change on the sociopolitical front of cannabis legalization provides the opportunity for cannabidiol (CBD) research. CBD could end the opioid crisis without exchanging one high for another. However, she adds that there’s little clinical data on the topic.
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CBD could end the opioid crisis
Despite this, Hurd makes no bones about saying CBD can treat opioid addiction. Animal studies support her claims with evidence that CBD suppressed opioid cravings for weeks after ingestion. Pre-clinical trials on CBD showed that it reduced heroin-seeking behavior.
The other advantage of CBD is that it produces no “high,” so there is no danger of legalization creating a “black market.” In the past, this happened when illegal pain pills sales led to criminality.
Animal studies show suppressed opioid cravings
Scientists have been unable to prove that pre-clinical animal studies translate to the same successes in humans. The schedule 1 classification of all cannabis, including industrial hemp, hampers research.
Evidence from states where medical marijuana is legal, shows a downward trend in painkiller prescriptions There’s also less addiction to opioids, and associated deaths. A study last year showed a decline in traffic fatalities after opioid abuse. Based on these findings, researchers argued the case for legal medical marijuana to reduce opioid addiction figures.
Is the DEA becoming more lenient towards CBD?
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is becoming more inclined to agree that CBD has some medical use than it previously was, but the organization still classifies it as a schedule 1 drug.
DEA spokesman Russ Baer said some studies on cannabis extracts like CBD had demonstrated promise. He says that the organization supports ongoing scientific research. Could the DEA be working towards agreeing that CBD could end the opioid crisis?
There’s well-documented evidence that CBD helps with pain management. Could it reduce opioid dependency nationwide? Researchers must still explore its ability to suppress cravings in people who suffer from addiction. Hopefully, calls to action such as the one Hurd published will make government and researchers sit up and take note.