Should Cannabis fear becoming the new Oxycontin?

Oxycontin exploded onto the American market in the late 1990’s as a solution to not just major pain but mild pain. Since then the US has undergone one of the biggest medical crises in it’s history.

Now that the dangers of Oxycontin are known and the money pharmaceutical companies begins to dry up is cannabis in danger of becoming the drug that fills that void?

Oxycontin was marketed as a wonder drug that could solve irritable pains with little fear of addiction. Twenty years later and thanks to the work of many investigative journalists the drug has been shown to have had a major effect on the nation through the opioid crises.

There are fears that thanks to the advent of legalised cannabis the nation could well be falling into the same traps albeit different results.

As cannabis has grew in popularity from the style of a “hippie drug” in the 1960’s to a consistently popular recreational drug that it is today the strength of THC within cannabis has also grown.

In the 1960’s the THC content was rarely above 5%. Today most strains are between 10-12% but some can go as high as 15-20%.

Such strength of THC and longer term use has notable side effects including schizophrenia and psychosis.

The fear arises that the companies producing cannabis will make their product for the biggest market whether that be healthy to the nation or not as was the case with Oxycontin.

Dr. Ronnet Lev who hoses the podcast High Truths on Drugs has voiced concern that the same playbook that happened with Oxycontin is now happening in the cannabis market although with different consequences.

There are of course many differences between the two drugs. Oxycontin is an opioid that is stronger than Morphine and was prescribed massively during the late 1990’s and 2000’s. It led many users onto Heroin and Fentanyl and cause massive damage in communities.

Cannabis, even at a stronger strength is unlikely to cause users to pivot into various opioids as Oxycontin did. Yet there are already concerns about the rise in Kratom use as an alternative to cannabis, a drug that remains largely illegal in most nations.

Most importantly however is the fact that addiction to cannabis compared to Oxycontin is not comparable. Those suffering from addiction to an opioid such as Oxycontin would suffer horrendous withdrawals. This is what in turn led them to turning to other drugs in the opioid family if they could not receive their prescription.

Therefore it remains unlikely that there will cannabis could ever cause a similar crisis that Oxycontin did. However, should higher and higher THC strength permitted cannabis continue onto the market there could be further news stories of negative psychological cases.

Medical practitioners and society should remain watchful for any unintended consequences.

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