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Can Medical Marijuana Be Addictive?

August 2, 2019 • • GeneralMedical Marijuana
Can Medical Marijuana Be Addictive

Can Medical Marijuana Be Addictive?

Using medical marijuana responsibly and with a doctor’s recommendation poses a low risk of addiction. In addition to common questions about the effectiveness of medical marijuana, many people want to know if there is a risk of addiction. Fortunately, cannabis is generally considered safe for long-term use — especially when compared to the rate of dependency associated with alcohol, opioids, and other drugs.  Like any medical treatment, there is some risk associated with marijuana. However, most healthcare professionals consider it to be a safe option for managing a variety of conditions. Here’s what we know — and what still needs to be determined — when it comes to medical marijuana and addiction.

Cannabis Offers a Low Risk of Addiction

Based on a 1994 study, the National Institute on Drug Abuse concluded that 9 percent of those who have used marijuana become addicted. However, Mitchell Earleywine, chairman of the board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and a psychology professor at the University of Albany, says that a closer examination reveals that only around half of those 9 percent reported having serious problems associated with their marijuana use.  While cannabis abuse and addiction are real concerns, the drug poses less risk that many other medications, particularly opioids. Further, cannabis addiction is relatively simple to treat, as withdrawal symptoms are far less severe than those associated with other substances. It’s next to impossible to overdose on cannabis, which suggests that it is likely a safer option for managing chronic pain than opioids. In fact, a recent study found that states with medical marijuana laws see lower rates of overdose deaths from prescription painkillers. 

Addiction Specialists Chime In

Our bodies are complex and unique, and a course of treatment that works for one person might cause adverse effects for someone else. Plus, medical marijuana research is relatively new, and researchers are still working to reach definitive conclusions about the drug’s risks and benefits.  Yet most healthcare providers agree that when medical marijuana is used responsibly and with a doctor’s recommendation, the risk of addiction is low. A recent survey of addiction specialists found that 71 percent of respondents believe that cannabis should be legalized for medical purposes, and 70 percent say it’s safe when used responsibly. Medical marijuana products tend to contain more CBD than THC, which is the molecule that creates the drug’s psychoactive high. A recent report by the World Health Organization says that there’s no evidence to show that CBD causes dependency or addiction, nor that it poses any public health risks. In fact, patients with substance abuse disorders or those whose treatment plans include medications with high abuse potential may benefit from using marijuana as an effective alternative to opioids.

The Benefits of Medical Marijuana

While every medicine will have side effects, those associated with medical marijuana and cannabidiol products tend to be mild — especially when the treatment is carried out responsibly. Many patients report that medical cannabis helps them manage a number of conditions, from insomnia and anxiety to cancer, chronic pain, and epilepsy.   If you live in Ohio and are curious about whether medical marijuana might be a viable option for you, schedule a consultation with us at Lakewood Medical Clinic. Our team of trained specialists is ready to help you discover how cannabis may benefit your lifestyle.