Cannabis alternative to opioid

Canadian medical experts say legalizing cannabis may offer new hope to one day reduce the use of opioids — powerful drugs frequently prescribed for the treatment of pain.

Dr. Mark Ware, a globally recognized researcher and the vice-chair of the federal government’s task force on legalizing marijuana, says a legal framework for cannabis will help to facilitate further research.

He said published scientific research already suggests cannabinoid molecules interact with the brain in a way that has an important “synergy” with how opioids interact with receptors in the body.

“This appears to be a very profound affect,” he said. “Research suggests there are important interactions between the two systems.”

U.S. states that have legalized cannabis for medical purposes have also reported lower rates of deaths by opioid overdose, he added, noting what is lacking now is clinical studies to definitively say a patient on a high-dose opioid could use a cannabinoid to reduce their dose.

“That’s the challenge we have — to take this interesting possibility and explore it,” Ware said.

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