Analyzing the use of cannabis in treating addiction
The opioid crisis is an ongoing concern in northern Ontario and beyond, and a Sudbury group is taking things into their own hands by offering free cannabis edibles to those battling opioid addictions.
While not yet legalized in Canada, a local entrepreneur and cannabis advocate believes he has the solution to the growing opioid problem. So, once a month, Jason LaFaci hands out free cannabis edibles in Sudbury’s downtown.
"Basically, what we are trying to do is trying to encourage addicts to get off opioids. And say for the last year, we've got 30 people that have stopped using needles with cannabis and so we're trying to encourage more people to get off the needles and the opioids and look for an alternative." said LaFaci.
Dr. Lionel Marks de Chabris is a local physician who says he isn't sure handing out the edibles will work for all people struggling with addiction. He says if the edibles being handed out are composed of more cannabidiol (CBD) than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the ingredient that gets people high, there is more potential for success.
“If he’s handing out edibles with high CBD, then people aren’t going to get intoxicated from it and they might benefit.” said Dr. Marks de Chabris.
But he is not sure that this theory will work.
"The studies that have been done on people who have addictions to opioids, who also use cannabis, they tend to do worse in their addictions treatment." said Dr. Marks de Chabris.
He says studies show those patients tend to have ongoing battles with their opioid addictions and often use other drugs such as cocaine.
But there is a flip side. The physician is a strong supporter of prescribing cannabis for pain and says those patients could benefit.
"The people who are using it for pain though, I’ve found, personally, that a lot of patients are able to reduce their dose of opioids and some even get off their dose of opioids by using cannabis." said Dr. Marks de Chabris.
He says whenever people use cannabis, recreationally or medically, they should always be careful. He's doubtful it can help with addictions.
"If you're using cannabis recreationally, well, you have to be careful. You start with low dose, you go slowly; you only increase your dose slowly over time to reduce your risk of getting side effects. And if you're using it to treat your addiction, I’m sorry, but right now, there's no evidence for that." said Dr. Marks de Chabris.