Drug Policy Question of the Week – 10-27-10
As answered by Mary Jane Borden, Editor of Drug War Facts for the Drug Truth Network on 10-27-10. http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/node/3120
Question of the Week: Do marijuana users need treatment?
First, with respect to life saving treatment, marijuana is fairly safe. According to the World Health Organization in 1998,
“There are no confirmed cases of human deaths from cannabis poisoning in the world medical literature.”
Further, Drug Abuse Warning Network data showed no emergency room marijuana deaths from 2004 to 2008.
The National Institute of Drug Abuse in its December 2007 edition of Addiction Science and Clinical Practice stated,
“Marijuana produces dependence less readily than most other illicit drugs. Some 9 percent of those who try marijuana develop dependence compared to, for example, 15 percent of people who try cocaine and 24 percent of those who try heroin.” (p. 5)
This 9 percent translates into around 9.4 million individuals based on the 104 million Americans who in 2009 were believed to have ever tried marijuana.
NIDA estimates that around 4.3 percent of Americans have been dependent on marijuana, as defined in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Describing withdrawal, the NIDA report noted that, marijuana withdrawal
“does not appear to include major medical or psychiatric consequences and may be considered mild compared with heroin and severe alcohol withdrawal syndromes.” (p. 10)
Ironically, one treatment showing great promise for marijuana withdrawal is its own active ingredient, THC. The NIDA report concluded that,
“THC reduced craving and ratings of anxiety, feelings of misery, difficulty sleeping, and chills. … These findings were replicated in an outpatient study, which found that moderate oral dosage of THC (10 mg, three times daily) suppressed many marijuana withdrawal symptoms and that a higher dosage (30 mg, three times daily) almost completely abolished [them].” (p. 11)
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