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Using cannabis can ease cravings for street-level drugs, research suggests

Cannabis could play a role in addressing the ongoing opioid overdose crisis since using cannabis is associated with decreased use of crystal methamphetamine among people at highest risk of overdose.

Photo by Terre di Cannabis from Unsplash.com

Cannabis could play a role in addressing the ongoing opioid overdose crisis since using cannabis is associated with decreased use of crystal methamphetamine among people at highest risk of overdose in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

This is according to a study – “Cannabis use to manage stimulant cravings among people who use unregulated drugs” by Hudson Reddon, Maria Eugenia Socias, Kora DeBeck, Kanna Hayashi, Zach Walsh, and M.J. Milloy – that appeared in Addictive Behaviors.

The research used data from a questionnaire administered to individuals concurrently using cannabis and unregulated drugs, including stimulants and opioids, in Vancouver. It is the latest in a series of studies investigating the potential of cannabis to address the overdose crisis led by Drs. Milloy and Walsh, and other colleagues at the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use.

The researchers found:

  • About 45 per cent of the participants reported using cannabis to manage their cravings for stimulant drugs in the last six months, including powder cocaine, crack cocaine and methamphetamines.
  • A notable reduction in crystal meth use was observed among those who used cannabis for craving management, though this association was not significant for crack cocaine users.

Reddon, the study’s lead researcher, emphasized the potential of cannabis as a harm-reduction strategy.

“Our findings are not conclusive but do add to the growing scientific evidence that cannabis might be a beneficial tool for some people who want to better control their unregulated stimulant use, particularly for people who use crystal meth. This suggests a new direction for harm reduction strategies among people who use drugs,” Reddon said.

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