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Is Marijuana An 'Exit Drug'?

Health & Wellness  (tags: americans, AlternativeMed, diet, disease, drugs, environment, food, health, healthcare, illness, investigation, medicine, research, risks, safety, science, study, treatment )

- 1970 days ago -
Three quarters of medical cannabis consumers report using it as a substitute for prescription drugs, alcohol, or some other illicit substance, according to survey data published in the journal Addiction Research and Theory.

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Kit B (276)
Friday December 28, 2012, 9:23 am
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Is Marijuana an 'Exit Drug'? Study Suggests Some Are Taking It as a Substitute for Prescription Drugs and Alcohol
A surprising three quarters of medical cannabis consumers say they subbed in pot for more harmful substances.

Three quarters of medical cannabis consumers report using it as a substitute for prescription drugs, alcohol, or some other illicit substance, according to survey data published in the journal Addiction Research and Theory.

An international team of investigators from Canada and the United States assessed the subjective impact of marijuana on the use of licit and illicit substances via self-report in a cohort of 404 medical cannabis patients recruited from four dispensaries in British Columbia, Canada.

Researchers reported that subjects frequently substituted cannabis for other substances, including conventional pharmaceuticals. Authors reported:

“Over 41 percent state that they use cannabis as a substitute for alcohol (n=158), 36.1 percent use cannabis as a substitute for illicit substances (n=137), and 67.8 percent use cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs (n=259). The three main reasons cited for cannabis-related substitution are ‘less withdrawal’ (67.7 percent), ‘fewer side-effects’ (60.4 percent), and ‘better symptom management’ suggesting that many patients may have already identified cannabis as an effective and potentially safer adjunct or alternative to their prescription drug regimen.”

Overall, 75.5 percent (n=305) of respondents said that they substitute cannabis for at least one other substance. Men were more likely than women to report substituting cannabis for alcohol or illicit drugs.

Authors concluded: “While some studies have found that a small percentage of the general population that uses cannabis may develop a dependence on this substance, a growing body of research on cannabis-related substitution suggests that for many patients cannabis is not only an effective medicine, but also a potential exit drug to problematic substance use. Given the credible biological, social and psychological mechanisms behind these results, and the associated potential to decrease personal suffering and the personal and social costs associated with addiction, further research appears to be justified on both economic and ethical grounds. Clinical trials with those who have had poor outcomes with conventional psychological or pharmacological addiction therapies could be a good starting point to further our under- standing of cannabis-based substitution effect.”

Previous studies have similarly demonstrated cannabis’ potential efficacy as an exit drug. A 2010 studypublished in the Harm Reduction Journal reported that cannabis-using adults enrolled in substance abuse treatment programs fared equally or better than nonusers in various outcome categories, including treatment completion. A 2009 study reported that 40 percent of subjects attending a California medical cannabis dispensary reported using marijuana as a substitute for alcohol, and 26 percent used it to replace their former use of more potent illegal drugs. A separate 2009 studypublished in the American Journal on Addictions reported that moderate cannabis use and improved retention in naltrexone treatment among opiate-dependent subjects in a New York state inpatient detoxification program.

Full text of the study, “Cannabis as a substitute for alcohol and other drugs: A dispensary-based survey of substitution effect in Canadian medical cannabis patients,” appears online in Addiction Research and Theory. NORML Advisory Board Member Mitch Earleywine is a co-author of this study.
***additional links for information within body of article at VISIT SITE*****

By: Paul Armentano | Alternert |

Paul Armentano is the deputy director of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), and is the co-author of Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink (2009, Chelsea Green).

. (0)
Friday December 28, 2012, 10:31 am
For years, my doctor has said, if you could get your hands on some pot, I would never have to write you a script for a drug to help you sleep.

Kit B (276)
Friday December 28, 2012, 11:02 am

True enough Allan, and for those of us with migraines marijuana is the "gateway" drug to a pain free life.

pam w (139)
Friday December 28, 2012, 1:18 pm
Not to mention those with severe arthritis....

Kit B (276)
Friday December 28, 2012, 2:05 pm

The worst must lie within the intentional prevention of the use of Marijuana as a drug for curing many known diseases. Nothing has shown itself to be as useful to human kind and our battle against diseases like cancer as the Cannabinoids found within the Marijuana plant. These patents are owned by the US Government.

Yvonne White (229)
Friday December 28, 2012, 2:24 pm
Exactly why BigPharma won't allow pot to be legalized! "“Over 41 percent state that they use cannabis as a substitute for alcohol (n=158), 36.1 percent use cannabis as a substitute for illicit substances (n=137), and 67.8 percent use cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs (n=259). The three main reasons cited for cannabis-related substitution are ‘less withdrawal’ (67.7 percent), ‘fewer side-effects’ (60.4 percent), and ‘better symptom management’ suggesting that many patients may have already identified cannabis as an effective and potentially safer adjunct or alternative to their prescription drug regimen.”
It is sickening, even if you are disease free, to know cannabinoids are purposely kept from patients, even if they're dying.:(

Mary Robert (2)
Friday December 28, 2012, 7:55 pm
So right, Yvonne. Add the alcohol industry to the list. And don't forget the right wing spokespeople who make their living by riling up anger and fear amongst their listeners.

Past Member (0)
Saturday December 29, 2012, 5:34 am
Thank you.

paul m (93)
Saturday December 29, 2012, 6:26 am


paul m (93)
Saturday December 29, 2012, 6:28 am


Patricia H. (440)
Saturday December 29, 2012, 12:13 pm

Theodore Shayne (56)
Saturday December 29, 2012, 12:35 pm
Much as I would prefer not to see anyone having to use pain killers; alcohol or anti psychotics I think organic marijuana is a great substitute. My concerns with marijuana are its affect on the environment through illegal grow ops; secondly those varieties cut with Formaldehyde or PCP or some other chemical.

Kit B (276)
Saturday December 29, 2012, 12:41 pm

That is most certainly a legitimate concern, Theodore. When Marijuana is legal in all states and people can grow a couple of plants in their back yard, perhaps the issue of those concerns will be negated.

tiffany t (142)
Saturday December 29, 2012, 2:24 pm
makes sense due to the biggest funding of anti-legalization is beer companies, tobacco companies, and big pharm.

Jae A (316)
Saturday December 29, 2012, 2:30 pm
Alcohol is the gateway drug. Pot is the exit and or medical help that a lot of people sure could use over that of pharmameds. Safe and effective ! Personal Testimony that was, ya can say :-).

So to all I say, have a safe,well and enjoyable Saturday !..........puffpuffpass

M B (62)
Saturday December 29, 2012, 2:43 pm
If it is used with sense, it does no harm. Alcohol is far worse, and should be recognized as a dangerous drug.
I'd like to see Marihuana legalized, ban alcohol instead.

Kit B (276)
Saturday December 29, 2012, 2:49 pm

There I must disagree Monka. Not that I believe alcohol is harmless, I do not. However, I do believe that history has shown us that when any thing is prohibited people will gain access by any means. By once again creating a prohibition of alcohol we just create another highly profitable criminal enterprise.

. (0)
Saturday December 29, 2012, 4:09 pm
I don't know whether it is or isn't although I would like to see it legalized and regulated for environmental and quality control reasons. There's a syndrome out there called addictive personality and it is more common that not. This could constitute a large percentage of addicts and why they are addicts. How come that is never talked about? Take heroin for example. The best way to quit it or any addiction is cold turkey. However we prescribe methadone which to me merely addresses the problem superficially and not the cause. Does anyone know what the recidivist rate is for heroin users? We went through Prohibition and learned nothing from it. We banned marijuana along with other legal drugs; going so far as to actually declare a war on drugs that has resulted in tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths and the destruction of people's live to the tune of a million more. It is an unwinnable war that should be stopped. The only people profiting from this are the contractors for Super Maxes; police forces with a large antidrug budget; extreme law and order politicians and peripherally Big Pharma. Let's not forget the cartels; some of which are sanctioned indirectly by government reps in order to maintain plausible deniability. How do you think the CIA and the government funded all their dirty little wars and conflicts over the years. Of course it's also a good way to reduce surplus population.

ILIA I (8)
Saturday December 29, 2012, 4:17 pm
Too true. Making anything illegal just creates another profitable business venture to criminals. On the other hand, legalising one drug can open the door to others. Just where do we stop? Should heroin and meth be made legal? A line has to be drawn somewhere, but where?

Kit B (276)
Saturday December 29, 2012, 4:57 pm

What any person makes a choice to do with their lives is their business, not mine. There are ways to regulate drugs, those ways produce no profit margin and that is what feeds the nature of the illegal drugs. We have thousands of people employed to keep this war going, the US government makes big money from the war on drugs. If heroin were legal and regulated then what possible interest or profit would there be in cooking meth? All drugs are legal in Portugal, they seem to manage just fine. Simply because it is legal does not mean that any one will suddenly begin to use that drug or any drug.

No, we do not fully understand the mechanisms within the brain that cause addiction, but we do know that it is now a big business to treat addiction.

Sheila D (28)
Saturday December 29, 2012, 5:01 pm
This is probably the main reason Big Pharm is against legalizing marijuana; they can't make money selling it. Legalizing pot would help thousands of people who are addicted to prescription drugs and/or alcohol to be able to take something for their pain that doesn't have all the horrible side effects. What a concept! Thanks for the article Kit.

Laura Lee Roberts (40)
Saturday December 29, 2012, 9:51 pm
first thought of as and entry/gateway drug, now as an exit drug...I suppose that's a gateway as well. Interesting times...

Juergen M (1)
Sunday December 30, 2012, 3:15 am
Good article, but currently, to use the term "drug" to describe cannabis is not simply untruthful, but worse, it is the premeditated adoption of an unconscionable Prohibitionist tactic of semantic abuse. This devious ploy deliberately associates mild, benign cannabis with potentially dangerous, addictive substances, drugs - of which alcohol is one such - to make cannabis appear to be something harmful, which the official empirical researches confirm is not.

Cannabis - The Benign Medical Herb

The official Empirical Studies into actual use of cannabis conclude:
1) use of Cannabis has no adverse effect upon mental or physical health: Cannabis is harmless, it protects;
2) use of Cannabis does not cause any impairment to mental and physical abilities: Cannabis is safe, it enhances;
3) modern Medical Case Histories show Cannabis to have numerous beneficial results to health: Cannabis is absolutely benign, it even cures from cancer and prevents from becoming sick.

Well in short, the allegations of "harm" by which Cannabis has been prohibited are, by disinterested scientific scrutiny, not substantiated: the "harm" has been competently , comprehensively and consistently dismissed.

The allegations are naught by figments. The unfounded "law" has always been false; the Prohibition is an ongoing fraud; all Cannabis related prosecutions of citizens are malicious.

Have a nice day !


Past Member (0)
Sunday December 30, 2012, 6:24 am
"..the only part.."

John Gregoire, you live in a cave, right?

Deborah W (6)
Sunday December 30, 2012, 6:38 am
Once legalized watch the growth of yet another government-owned line of revenue.

Edgar Zuim (47)
Sunday December 30, 2012, 1:54 pm
No drug is good for health, or any drug is crap. Cigarette and alcohol, which are legalized drugs are as harmful as marijuana. The legalization of marijuana will not make it less harmful, but avoid the illegal trade which is often controlled by drug dealers and criminals

Lois Jordan (63)
Sunday December 30, 2012, 1:56 pm
Thanks for the interesting article, Kit. I have long believed this. The medicinal value of cannabis is finally making some news, thanks to alternative media. Now that a couple of states have "legalized" it, the door's wide open for the rest of the country to learn about its valuable contribution to helping combat various forms of mental illness, as well as migraines, arthritis, etc. While some may say that addicts just trade one addiction for another, at least cannabis use doesn't result in violent outbursts, and serves to calm. And, "side effects" from abuse are not damaging like they are from chemicals or alcohol.

Past Member (0)
Sunday December 30, 2012, 9:43 pm

Tobacco : 435,000

Alcohol : 85,000

Marijuana : 0

Edgar, would you like to reconsider that terribly misleading statemnent you just made?

Past Member (0)
Sunday December 30, 2012, 9:47 pm
Bill in Texas seeks to soften penalty for marijuana possession

Will someone please check to see if hell has frozen over?


Kit B (276)
Sunday December 30, 2012, 9:58 pm

Well maybe hell did freeze, though I don't expect that bill will pass. If it does than maybe the Mayans were right but had the day wrong. Texas will be about the 110th state to pass legalization or any form of acceptance of Marijuana. Not because all Texans are in agreement, but we are run by extreme radical Right Wing republicans.
Pain relief for those in need? Not gonna happen.

Thanks MJ

Billie C (2)
Sunday December 30, 2012, 10:17 pm
time to legalize it and stop turning people into criminals.

Susanne R (235)
Tuesday January 8, 2013, 11:01 pm
It's not surprising that the producers of substances that treat debilitating symptoms lobby against marijuana which, in many cases, is a safer and more effective alternative. They don't want to lose their bread and butter to something people can produce in their homes or in their own backyards. If they found out that zucchini cured cancer, they'd find a way to make it illegal to grow and ingest even that. They HAVE to get their piece of the pie and insult our intelligence by telling us it's for our own good!

Theclean G. (0)
Monday October 28, 2013, 12:42 pm
With the passage of Amendment 64 in Colorado... everyone here is breathing a sigh of relief.

Folks who I've never heard talk about cannabis before are talking about using it as medicine... it's wonderful! I've been helping people learn how to make their own Canna Pills at home as well.

Awesome Stuff!

I'm fortunate enough to have the "Harlequin" cut of cannabis that's 8% CBD and only 6% THC... it's impossible to get 'High' or 'Stoned' from using it while the medical efficacy of it is off the charts! :D

The new era of CBD in the cannabis community is looking extremely promising!

Keep it Clean! :D
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