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From the archives 2021

WATCH: A free panel on using cannabis to treat opioid addiction

by Spotlight PA Staff |

Pennsylvania has one of the highest drug overdose death rates in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
TOM GRALISH / Philadelphia Inquirer

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In 2018, the newly established Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Advisory Board successfully advocated for opioid use disorder to be added as one of the qualifying conditions for recommending cannabis, saying marijuana can offer pain relief, help with withdrawal symptoms, and work as an “exit drug” for heroin and other opiates.

Some members of the board saw the expansion as another way for the state — which has one of the highest drug overdose death rates in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — to fight the opioid epidemic.

But the kind of rigorous research needed to study the treatment can often stretch for many years, and the state’s research program faced some early challenges, including a lawsuit filed by a group of medical marijuana companies.

With the state research program in its early stages and evidence lacking, some experts remain divided on recommending marijuana to treat opioid use disorder.

On Thursday, Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. EST, Spotlight PA and a panel of experts held a free discussion on cannabis as a treatment for opioid use disorder, the debate in the medical community, and a look at the research.

Our panelists included:

  • Ed Mahon, investigative reporter for Spotlight PA

  • Shalawn James, member of the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Advisory Board

  • Dr. Peter Grinspoon, board member of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation

  • Dr. Kavita Fischer, vice president of the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Society

Spotlight Live: Cannabis Conundrum from Spotlight PA on Vimeo.

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