While politicians in the US are arguing over whether or not cannabis could be a viable option in the fight against the epidemic of opioid overdoses–Attorney General Sessions vehemently opposes the concept, while senators like Rep. Earl Blumenaur from Oregon are trying to push legislation that would make it more feasible–Canadians are taking matters into their own hands.
It’s not only the US facing droves of overdose deaths related to opioids, and one group in Vancouver, BC, has begun giving out cannabis to opioid addicts as part of the effort to help them kick the habit.
Opioids are a tricky substance. Most people who end up with opioid addictions initially begin using the potent drugs to treat pain, easily becoming dependent and turning to the black market when prescription options are withheld. While they can be beneficial for many dealing with severe pain, cheap and highly potent synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanyl are making their way into markets, making overdose even more likely. Some research has suggested that cannabis can act as an alternative pain treatment and even assist opioid users in the quest to leave the dependency behind.
One pop-up overdose tent in Vancouver is literally battling the epidemic on the streets. Initially opened to help reverse overdoses by providing naloxone, they expanded to provide Kratom, a psychoactive herbal that some believe can help treat opioid addiction. Then they started offering cannabis as another option, asking local dispensaries for advice.
Sarah Blyth, one of the people behind the tent, is collecting statistics with students to get a better understanding of the epidemic as it presents in Vancouver, and reports that police have been relatively supportive, even though the effort is illegal. The city, like many others, is overwhelmed with trying to combat the epidemic.
“We can get 700 people a day at the tent,” Blyth said to The Cannabis Reporter. “A lot of the time, we spend all day reversing overdoses.”