Saturday, December 29, 2012

Marijuana as exit drug

There is an interesting new study published in the journal Addiction Research and Theory titled Cannabis as a substitute for alcohol and other drugs: A dispensary-based survey of substitution effect in Canadian medical cannabis patients.  
Perhaps instead of viewing marijuana as a gateway drug, we should instead be looking at it as a method to get people off more harmful substances.
Background: This article examines the subjective impact of medical cannabis on the use of both licit and illicit substances via self-report from 404 medical cannabis patients recruited from four dispensaries in British Columbia, Canada. The aim of this study is to examine a phenomenon called substitution effect, in which the use of one product or substance is influenced by the use or availability of another.
Methods: Researchers teamed with staff representatives from four medical cannabis dispensaries located in British Columbia, Canada to gather demographic data of patient-participants as well as information on past and present cannabis, alcohol and substance use. A 44-question survey was used to anonymously gather data on the self-reported impact of medical cannabis on the use of other substances.
Results: Over 41% state that they use cannabis as a substitute for alcohol (n = 158), 36.1% use cannabis as a substitute for illicit substances (n = 137), and 67.8% use cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs (n = 259). The three main reasons cited for cannabis-related substitution are “less withdrawal” (67.7%), “fewer side-effects” (60.4%), and “better symptom management” suggesting that many patients may have already identified cannabis as an effective and potentially safer adjunct or alternative to their prescription drug regimen.
Discussion: With 75.5% (n = 305) of respondents citing that they substitute cannabis for at least one other substance, and in consideration of the growing number of studies with similar findings and the credible biological mechanisms behind these results, randomized clinical trials on cannabis substitution for problematic substance use appear justified.
I can personally vouch for these results. Seven years ago I had open heart surgery to repair a murmur and mitral valve. Split wide open like a chicken breast. I had a total of one pain killer after waking up from anesthesia, with very bad side effects, having always had an adverse reaction to narcotics. I chose to forego them from then on and self medicate with marijuana. My pain immediately was reduced from an 8 on a 10 scale to a 2.

Three years ago I had my left kidney removed due to cancer recurrence. I never took pain killers during the operation and recovery choosing also to self medicate with cannabis. My pain level never rose above 1.5. This is cutting my left flank wide open with an attendant 18" scar and removing an organ. Not exactly child's play. But having unfortunately undergone multiple surgeries in my life I can tell you that this way is far easier. Pity the U.S. government classifies it the way it does and prohibits legitimate medical and clinical study.

I had lengthy rehabilitations after both surgeries and never had to use dangerous painkillers. The only thing I took was an occasional ibuprofen. This harmless herb allowed me to detach and view my pain from a "third party" position and avert any possible withdrawal or addiction behavior patterns.

Although Obama has been a total washout in the matter of marijuana legalization, I can only hope that it is merely a matter of time before "cooler heads" prevail.

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