Opioid Addiction Being Treated With Medical Marijuana in Massachusetts

Hundreds of people in Massachusetts who are addicted to opioids are being treated with medical marijuana, according to the Boston Herald.

“We have a statewide epidemic of opioid deaths,” said Dr. Gary Witman of Canna Care Docs, a network of facilities that qualifies patients into medical marijuana programs in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, Delaware and the District of Columbia. “As soon as we can get people off opioids to a nonaddicting substance — and medicinal marijuana is nonaddicting — I think it would dramatically impact the amount of opioid deaths.”

Witman, who works in a Massachusetts Canna Care clinic, has treated about 80 patients who were addicted to opioids, anti-anxiety medication or muscle relaxers with cannabis through a one-month tapering program. More than three-quarters of patients stopped taking the harder drugs, he told the newspaper.

Witman said cannabis can be a safer alternative for managing the symptoms patients had been using opioids to treat, such as chronic pain or anxiety.

Another Massachusetts physician, Dr. Harold Altvater, said he has also successfully used medical marijuana as a substitute for other medications. “You are basically taking something that can be very harmful for an individual, and substituting it with another chemical, just like you would any other drug, that has a wider safety margin,” he said. “So if the goal is to decrease the body count … the goal would be to get them on to a chemical that was safer.”

Some doctors say cannabis substitution therapy needs extensive followup. “It might be an exit drug for some, or an entry drug for others,” said Dr. Anil Kumar. “If you don’t have a way of monitoring this patient who is saying ‘give me marijuana and I will stop taking narcotics,’ they may do both.”


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    Cheryl S.

    March 29, 2018 at 11:30 PM

    Please I need help. I am a soon to be 72 year old disabled mother who is taking care of a 41 yrold son who has multiple medical problems who also suffers alot of pain. He also has Diabetes of a somewhat rare form. He is opiate addicted and recently now the use of Heroine has come into play due to not being able to find medication for himself. His medical Insurance is of Masshealth. I am worried for his life. I myself had been on opioids myself for about 10 yrs now but now using Suboxone to come off of them. My God I pray every day and every night that the next morning I will find my son still alive. He talks about the use of medical marajuana but he is in need of a doctor for he dc oes not have a doctor that cares. We live in Athol, Ma. And in need of emediate help. Please please can someone there help my son. He does not know I am asking anyone for help. He’s very private and very proud. Anytime I try to talk to him about finding some help he becomes angry with me. He’s had 4 heart attacks as well. I am frightened for him. He has tried to get help before but the outcome was horendous. We dont know where to look that safe for him. A slimey 30 day program I know is not the answer. Please. My email is (lgsscheryl@gmail.com) please can you help?

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