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Cannabis to treat opioid addiction: The research still isn’t there

Cannabis to treat opioid addiction: The research still isn’t there

Peter Grinspoon, MD

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August 9, 2021
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DFCR board member Dr. Peter Grinspoon is interviewed by Spotlight PA regarding cannabis as a tool to fight opioid addition.

Chris Braddock, a 37-year-old house painter from Washington County, said he struggled with opioid addiction for several years, going through periods of using traditional treatment options. But he said he couldn’t break a cycle of relapsing until he received approval for cannabis almost three years ago.“I see how it works on me and people I know. I mean, that’s all the scientific evidence I need,” Braddock said. “I’m content. I’m happy. My life is good.”Dr. Peter Grinspoon — an instructor at Harvard Medical School and a board member of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, a group that supports cannabis legalization for adults — said he’s heard a lot of anecdotal evidence like Braddock’s. But he said anecdotal evidence has its limits.If a patient has a headache and wants to try marijuana, Grinspoon said, the worst-case scenario is the cannabis doesn’t work and their migraine sticks around.“Then we try something else,” said Grinspoon, who has talked publicly about his own experience with opioid addiction and recovery.But the risk of failure is higher when treating a potentially deadly condition. If a patient were to rely solely on cannabis to treat opioid use disorder, there’s a big fear: They could relapse, overdose on opioids, and die.

Read the full article at Spotlight PA.

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About the Author

Peter Grinspoon, MD

Peter Grinspoon, MD

Peter Grinspoon, MD, is a primary care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and an Instructor at Harvard Medical School. He is the author of the memoir Free Refills: A Doctor Confronts His Addiction. He spent two years as an Associate Director of the Massachusetts Physician Health Service helping physicians with addiction and mental health issues. He graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy with honors from Swarthmore College. He then spent five years as a Campaign Director for the environmental group Greenpeace before entering medical school at Boston University School of Medicine, where he graduated with honors. He completed his residency at Harvard’s Brigham and Woman’s Hospital, in the primary care program.  He has been on national television including NBC, C-SPAN, and Fox and Friends, and his writings have been published in The Nation and The Los Angeles Times. He is a Contributing Editor to Harvard Health Publications.