harm reduction cananbis
harm reduction cananbis

Using Cannabis for Harm Reduction

NIH Talks Using Cannabis For Harm Reduction

Posted by:
Reginald Reefer on Monday Jun 12, 2017

Using Cannabis for Harm Reduction

Medical Cannabis Helping With Harm Reduction from CannabisNet on Vimeo.


For anyone who has ever dealt with addiction, it’s no walk in the park. While your conscious mind says, “I need to stop this” your body and that annoying monkey on your back says, “Just one more and then you’ll quit!”


Now I have been struggling in quitting cigarettes for many years now. There were a few years where I managed to give up this nasty habit, but as time passed and in a moment of weakness, I fell right back into my old pal addiction. Of course, cigarettes kill you slowly. It’s a marvelous drug really.


Unlike heroin and crack, the side effects of tobacco only become notable after many years of smoking. For some people, it might come sooner but for most smokers, you can go 40 years without significantly feeling the effects of your vice. You can’t say the same for Meth or Heroin now can you?


For people who are hooked on these harder drugs, there might be a way to wean off the harmful substances to something more benign; Cannabis!


Taking a Page from the Books of History


Harm reduction is nothing new. In fact, during alcohol prohibition there were “Tea pads” which were cannabis smoking parlors where people were substituting cannabis for alcohol. Some people were addicted to alcohol and for anyone who has ever suffered alcohol addiction, it can be an outright motherfucker to kick. The withdrawal symptoms are painful; you stop functioning like a human being and feel more like a walking compost heap.


Today, there are several rehab clinics that are embracing the idea of harm reduction via cannabis, especially when it comes to destructive drugs like alcohol, heroin, meth and crack. These drugs have violent withdrawal symptoms and a high addiction rate.


To simply go “cold turkey” on these substances can even result in death to a chronic user. Your body will squirm and squeal for its next fix and the toll on the body can be lethal.


Using cannabis as a ‘stepping stone’ or a ‘reverse gateway’ can provide the much needed relief these addicts need to finally kick their habit. Of course, smoking weed by itself isn’t enough, however think of it as a crutch to help get the job done.


The Gaining Acceptance of Harm Reduction

National Institute on Drug Abuse

Dr. Nora Volkov of the National Institute on Drug Abuse is becoming more accepting of the idea of using “interventionist medicine” to assist addicts with their problem. Drug addiction isn’t like a light switch. You can’t simply turn it on or off but a more compelling image would be to compare drug addiction to scuba diving.


You can’t immediately come to the surface, you have to move up gradually. For some people, it is possible to simply “quit” a drug, however for the vast majority this isn’t the case.


More importantly, CBD can help reverse brain damage caused by drug abuse. For instance, a severe cocaine addiction can have incredible side effects on the body including seizures, stroke and even bleeding in the brain.


Seeing that CBD is a neuroprotective compound, it can help not only reduce the desire for taking more drugs, but will begin repairing the brain.


When looking at Heroin addiction, Yasmin Hurd from the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine said the following;


“…heroin harms the glutamate transmitter system, which is important for decision-making, cognition and even reward”, explains Hurd.

"We found that (cannabidiol) reversed the impairments caused by heroin, for example, on the glutamatergic receptors."


As you can see, cannabis isn’t just for smoking and replacing the “high” but actually can reverse some of the significant issues caused by harder drugs.


The Canada Approach

Canada, specifically BC has a huge crack problem. In fact, with more than 1000 people dying from it over the past year, the government has declared it a public health crisis. In turn, they started to work on programs to help people wean off crack.


Research done by the BC Centre on Substance Use in Vancouver shows that using cannabis may enable people to consume less crack. In fact, they believe that cannabis could be to crack what methadone is to heroin.


In fact, when people who used crack substituted cannabis for it, they saw a decline in use of up to 35%. There are similar results in studies in Brazil and Jamaica.


Another Reason to Legalize

Isn’t it funny (not ha ha funny but what’s that spot on my skin funny) that we have been led to believe that cannabis will kill you. It’s a drug and will lead you to harder drugs they touted. Nowadays, with more research being poured out into cannabis, we are finding the opposite to be true.


Whether it’s for reducing cravings, reducing pain and nausea associated with withdrawal or repairing the damaged brain, cannabis might very well be the “exit drug” everyone has been looking for.

Medical Cannabis Helping With Harm Reduction from CannabisNet on Vimeo.



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