Study: Cannabis Associated with Increased Cessation of IV Opioid Use

Marijuana Possession

People who inject opioids are more likely to cease their behavior if they regularly consume cannabis, according to data published in the American Journal of Public Health.  

A team of Canadian investigators affiliated with the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use observed the relationship between cannabis consumption and IV drug use in a cohort of over 2,000 subjects.

Researchers reported that daily cannabis use was associated with “swifter rates” of opioid injection cessation, and that this use did not increase participants’ likelihood of relapse. “In the adjusted analysis, at-least-daily cannabis use was significantly associated with increased rates of injection cessation. … To our knowledge, this is the first longitudinal study to identify a positive association between cannabis use and cessation of injection drug use,” they reported.

While numerous studies have previously identified opioid-sparing effects associated with cannabis use in patients with chronic pain, this is among the first to report this effect in a population of consisting exclusively of intravenous drug consumers. Clinical trial data published last year reported that the administration of oral CBD reduces cue-induced cravings and anxiety in subjects with a history of heroin use.

The study’s authors concluded: “These observations are encouraging given the uncertainty surrounding the impact of cannabis legalization policies during the ongoing opioid overdose crisis in many settings in the United States and Canada, particularly among PWID [people who inject drugs] who are at increased risk for drug-related harm. The accumulating evidence from preclinical and epidemiological studies linking cannabis use to opioid use behaviors further supports the evaluation of the therapeutic benefits of cannabis and specific cannabinoids (e.g., CBD and THC) for people living with opioid use disorder.”

Full text of the study, “Frequent cannabis use and cessation of injection of opioids, Vancouver, Canada, 2005-2018,” appears in the American Journal of Public Health. Additional information is available from the NORML Fact Sheet, ‘Relationship Between Marijuana and Opioids.’