While many of the reported benefits of cannabis are backed by scientific evidence, others haven’t yet been subjected to scientific scrutiny. However, cannabis’ role in helping to combat addiction problems has received overwhelming support from addition specialists in Canada.
These addiction experts are asking the authorities to take steps and improve access to legal cannabis so that those who are most at risk of addiction to stronger substances can use medical marijuana to reduce their dependence or avoid getting hooked in the first place.
Of particular concern is Vancouver in British Columbia. Back in 2015, the authorities in Vancouver created an exclusion zone covering Downtown’s Eastside.
The intention of the authorities was to prevent medical cannabis dispensaries from being opened in that area with the largest population of addicts in the city.
In short, the city was admitting that there was a drug problem in that area and they felt that quarantining the problem would, in some obscure way, stamp it out.
The city seems to have been guided more by political rather than medical arguments in making that decision, and the addiction problem hasn’t shown any sign of abating since 2015 when the cannabis exclusion zone was created.
Dr. Keith Ahamad, working with the British Columbia Centres on Substance Abuse as a clinical researcher, says the exclusion zone doesn’t make any sense from a public health point of view.
Dr. Ahamad adds that marijuana is less harmful than other addictive substances, such as fentanyl. He therefore advocates for greater access to medical marijuana as a way to reduce the harm caused by addiction to those other drugs.
Other experts, such as Dr. Michael John Milloy, support Ahamad’s view and say that from their research, people who use cannabis on a daily basis are less likely to inject or overdose on other addictive drugs.
Dr. Milloy goes further and explains that cannabis can help addicts to have a better quality of life because it allows them to sleep.
The addiction experts acknowledge that while it doesn’t sound proper to make people switch from one addictive substance to another potentially addictive one, this step makes sense because cannabis is by far less harmful when compared to the other street drugs.
In this case, harm reduction (through the use of cannabis) is a more attainable target than trying to get addicts to quit using street drugs. Making cannabis more accessible through brick and mortar outlets and online retailers can be a first step to facilitating this switch.
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