Evidence that cannabis can be used as an effective alternative to powerful painkillers continues to mount, most recently demonstrated by the results of a study out of British Columbia.

An academic paper published in the Harm Reduction Journal found that not only can medical marijuana curb or even prevent opioid use, it can provide addicts with an exit strategy.

“There’s a growing body of evidence that cannabis can be a safer substitute and play a harm-reduction role by reducing the use of prescription opioids, reducing the use of alcohol, and even reducing the use of tobacco and illicit substances,” states author Philippe Lucas.

Cannabis has “no chance of (fatal) overdose, far less of a chance of developing dependence, and you don’t have a lot of the similar side effects you do with opioids,” he adds.

Lucas concludes that governments and health care providers should prioritize “cannabis-based intervention” to combat North America’s opioid epidemic. He also says doctors should consider prescribing cannabis instead of opioids for chronic pain.

“We’re right now in the throes of an opioid overdose epidemic and we need novel interventions,” he said.

Lucas plans to study the use of cannabis as an adjunct treatment for methadone and suboxone. Half of the study participants will take the opioid medications, with the other half consuming cannabis. Results of the study should be available by next fall.

h/t Vancouver Sun