UBC Okanagan research finds marijuana could help drug addicts, alcoholics

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KELOWNA - Marijuana may help people struggling with drug addiction, according to a new study from researchers at UBC Okanagan.

They have found that marijuana, often called a gateway drug, could be used as an exit drug for opioid users, according to the study’s leader, associate professor Zach Walsh. In a media release Walsh says cannabis could be a way to reduce the use of more harmful drugs.

“It appears that patients and others who have advocated for cannabis as a tool for harm reduction and mental health have some valid points,” he says.

Marijuana could also help alcoholics, according to the study, and with some symptoms of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and social anxiety. It concluded that cannabis might not help with bipolar disorder or psychosis.

The study was a comprehensive review of other studies which had researched medical cannabis, non-medical cannabis and mental health. The research comes ahead of legalization plans for marijuana in Canada. Walsh says there isn’t a lot of guidance for mental health professionals regarding marijuana.

“With the end of prohibition, telling people to simply stop using may no longer be as feasible an option,” he says i the release. “Knowing how to consider cannabis in the treatment equation will become a necessity.”

UBC Okanagan's Zach Walsh, associate professor of psychology
UBC Okanagan's Zach Walsh, associate professor of psychology
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