Marijuana – A Cure for Addiction or Just a Smokescreen?

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Pot vs. pills was the subject of a recent Dr. Sanjay Gupta CNN documentary, on the cover of Time Magazine and the debate is growing in medical circles across the nation.

Does this mean that where there is marijuana smoke, there is fire?

“I call it the cannabis conundrum,” said Dr. J. Craig Allen, Rushford Medical Director and President of the American Society of Addiction Medicine’s Connecticut Chapter. “There is good evidence to suggests that cannabis or specific cannabinoids can help with chronic pain, but there is no evidence that either is effective in the treatment of addiction.”

The Medical Marijuana Program Board of Physicians will gather this summer in Hartford to decide whether medical marijuana can be used legally as a treatment for opioid abuse and withdrawal.

The meeting comes on the heels of two recent studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which published information that states permitting medicinal use of marijuana have seen a drop in opioid prescriptions, and anecdotal reports of patients weaning themselves off opioids in favor of marijuana, which, though also addictive, does not present an overdose risk.

Dr. Allen cites a study in the American Journal of Psychiatry showing increased rates of opioid misuse and addiction in those who first used recreational marijuana

and says that some of his patients in recovery from opioid addictions have relapsed after marijuana use.

“I fear misinformation regarding cannabis use for addiction will draw people away from evidence based interventions like Medication Assisted Treatment which has been shown to save lives”.

“Someday research may identify cannabinoids that may be helpful to treat addiction, but we don’t have that evidence right now,” Allen said. “I wouldn’t push my patient out of a plane with a parachute unless I’ve tested it first.”

If you or a loved one needs treatment for addiction to opioids or other drugs/alcohol, visit to find a Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network MATCH (Medication Assisted Treatment Close to Home) center near you.


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