The theory at the High Hopes, Canada’s first full-time cannabis harm reduction program is that smoking weed actually be an effective tool to solve addiction issues.
The clinic was opened by co-ordinator Sarah Blyth last year after consulting with drug users seeking for help. The clinic provides addicts with free or low-cost oils gotten from marijuana and cannabis to help them stop using prohibited drugs.
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Out of the 100 people who registered in the program over the last year, about 50% are taking fewer street drugs, and 25% are off opioids altogether. The success appears to support promising preliminary research out of the University of British Columbia that suggests daily cannabis use meaningfully lowers the risk of overdoses.
Blyth told CTV News;
“It gives them a way to have an alternative to the drugs that they’re getting on the street. It’s safe, it can reduce pain.”
The program began by collecting cannabis donations from patients with licences from Health Canada. It has since accepted help from local dispensaries that aren’t legal.
High Hopes also offers CBD oil, which does not contain marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient, THC, and is hyped as an aid for anxiety, pain relief and inflammation.
About 4,000 Canadians died of opioid overdoses last year. About 1,400 of those deaths, or about one in three, were in B.C.
The clinic is operating well before cannabis becomes legal nationwide on Oct. 17. However, Blyth said waiting wasn’t an option.
“What we are doing is not fully legal but we see it helps and we are desperate to help people,” she said. “Watching people die isn’t OK.”
Melanie Pratt praises marijuana for helping her detox. She turned to cannabis after nearly losing her arm when a needle broke while injecting crystal meth. Now Pratt says smoking marijuana helped her eat, sleep and find peace.
Pratt who volunteered at High Hopes said;
“If you’re not withdrawing or feeling any pain, then you feel good. And I just think it’s a lot less harmful than other drugs.”
The research followed 1,461 participants, including HIV-positive illicit drugs users and street-involved youth.
Scientists say the study is the first of its kind to observe the connection. However, they warn that more studies are needed before making any firm conclusions.