Illicit Drug Users Turn to Cannabis as ‘Safe Supply’ Option

published on August 11, 2023 by Pat Anson in Pain News Network

The cannabis industry and its advocates have long said that medical marijuana could help solve the opioid crisis by reducing demand for prescription opioids. While the evidence for that claim is somewhat mixed, a new study suggests that cannabis may be useful in reducing demand for illicit opioids, such as fentanyl.

Researchers at UCLA and the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use surveyed 205 people in Vancouver, BC who use cannabis and “unregulated opioids” obtained on the black market. In recent years, Vancouver has become a laboratory for harm reduction programs aimed at reducing overdoses, such as “safe supply” sites that offer prescription opioids and injectable heroin to drug users.

The survey findings, published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, found that almost half the participants used cannabis to manage their opioid cravings and nearly 58% reported decreasing their opioid use. Researchers say the association between cannabis and harm reduction was “mainly driven by those living with moderate to severe pain.”

“These findings indicate that cannabis use to manage opioid cravings is a prevalent motivation for cannabis use among PWUO (people who use unregulated opioids) and is associated with self-assessed reductions in opioid use during periods of cannabis use,” wrote lead author Hudson Reddon, PhD, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the BC Centre on Substance Use…

View the full article