With cannabis fully legalized in Canada, researchers interested in the plant can finally carry out investigations that were previously beyond their reach, entangled in bureaucracy.
There may be no research area more pressing than the overdose crisis and claims that cannabis can be used to help some people manage, minimize or even eliminate an addiction to opiates.
For several years, the High Hopes Foundation has sold cannabis on the street market in Downtown Eastside. Until the Vancouver Police Department closed the operation in September last year, High Hopes founder Sarah Blyth argued that some of her consumers used marijuana as an alternative to heavy drugs, thus saving themselves of the overdose risks posed by the dangerous fentanyl synthetic-opioid.
While there is some evidence to support such claims, research around this issue can only be described as limited at best. So far, the governments of Canada and the US have simply made it very difficult to conduct marijuana research without strenuous regulations.
But the Cannabis Act of Canada came into effect last October. Now the B.C. The government has signaled that it is taking the idea seriously and wants more and better information on the subject. It is revealed that a UBC project announced last June will be led by M-J Milloy, a highly respected substance use epidemiologist with the B.C. Substance Use Center.
"Examining the potential of cannabis in coping with the overdose crisis of opiates and other substance use disorders is a priority for Dr. MJ Milloy, a recognized leader in the field of epidemiology and the first cannabis science professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC), "reads a November 23 press release.
"This chair will conduct clinical trials to explore the role that cannabis can play in helping people with opioid-related disorders stay on their treatment plan."
Milloy is quoted in the release emphasizing that there is much work to be done.
"The therapeutic benefits of cannabis are just beginning to be understood," he said. "Previous research has shown that it could have a stabilizing impact for people with opioid use disorder, improving their quality of life and offering a path to long-term treatment solutions." In the midst of an overdose crisis, we have a scientific imperative to base in this research. "
The government note notes that 1,143 people died of an overdose death of illicit drugs in BC during the first nine months of 2018. This puts the province on the path of about 1,500 deaths by the end of the year, probably surpassing the 1,458 fatal overdoses occurred in BC in 2017.
"We need all hands on the deck to save lives and help people find treatment and recovery services that will work in the long term," said B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy quoted in today's launch. "Our government has been bold and innovative in providing evidence-based treatment options for people living with addiction." This unprecedented chair will conduct research and clinical trials on how marijuana products can be used to cope with the overdose crisis which is taking three to four lives a day. "