A neurobiologist says medical marijuana could solve the US opioid abuse crisis

 Photo Credit: Reuters/Anthony Bolante

Photo Credit: Reuters/Anthony Bolante

Yasmin Hurd, a neuroscience, psychiatry, and pharmacology professor at Mount Sinai Hospital's medical school in New York, believes medical marijuana could have a significant impact on combatting the opioid epidemic. She recently wrote, "Epidemics require a paradigm shift in thinking about all possible solutions. The rapidly changing sociopolitical marijuana landscape provides a foundation for the therapeutic development of medicinal cannabidiol to address the current opioid abuse crisis. We have to be open to marijuana because there are components of the plant that seem to have therapeutic properties, but without empirical-based research or clinical trials, we’re letting anecdotes guide how people vote and policies."

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that can offer analgesic relief without risk of addiction or producing harmful side effects. Animal research shows CBD interacts with different endocannabinoid receptors so that it not only reduces pain, but that it also reduces opioid cravings for weeks after ingestion. Hurd explains, “Preclinical animal models have long demonstrated that, in addition to reducing the rewarding properties of opioid drugs and withdrawal symptoms, CBD directly reduces heroin-seeking behavior.” While this information could be groundbreaking in the fight against opioid addiction, more research is necessary in order to determine whether or not the results from this animal trial could translate similarly to human behaviors. 

This information has been provided by Quartz and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.