Study suggests cannabis may reduce crack use

published on May 19, 2017 by M-J Milloy And M. Eugenia Socias, The Conversation in Medical Xpress

North America is in the midst of a drug overdose disaster. In British Columbia, Canada, where nearly 1,000 people died of overdose in 2016, officials have declared a public health emergency.

While over-prescription of painkillers and contamination of the illegal opioid supply by fentanyl, a potent synthetic analgesic, are at the heart of the problem, opioid users are not the only ones at risk. Public health officials in BC are warning that fentanyl has been detected in many drugs circulating on the illicit market, including crack cocaine.

The possibility of opioid overdose is an unusual new threat for people who use crack, which is a stimulant. Its consumption, either through smoking or injection, is not necessarily deadly.

If misused, though, crack can certainly cause health harms, including cuts and burns from unsafe pipes. Sharing pipes can also transmit infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C. In the long run, frequent and heavy crack consumption may contribute to psychological and neurological complications.

Despite the estimated 14 to 21 million cocaine users worldwide, the majority of whom live in Brazil and the United States, scientists have yet to find an effective medical treatment for helping people who wish to decrease problematic use of the drug.

Cannabis-assisted treatment

Now Canadian scientists are working on an unconventional substitution for it.

Research done by the BC Centre on Substance Use in Vancouver shows that using cannabis may enable people to consume less crack. Could marijuana become to crack what methadone is to heroin – a legal, safe and effective substitute drug that reduces cravings and other negative impacts of problematic drug use?

View the full article