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By Citizen Reporter

Journalist


Clinical study: Medical cannabis to curb opioid addiction

Figures have revealed that opioid misuse is responsible for thousands of deaths globally worldwide.


The Cannabis Research Institute of South Africa (CRI) has sponsored a year-long study that will examine the effectiveness of medical cannabis as an alternative to opioids for chronic pain management.

According to a statement issued by Cannabis Clinics, the aim of the study is to also provide credible, reliable, and verifiable data to the relevant authorities to regulate the availability of medicinal cannabis.

Statistics

Figures have revealed that opioid misuse is responsible for thousands of deaths globally.

“Overdose deaths from drugs in the United States numbered 91,799 in 2020, with opioids accounting for 68,630 (74.8%). According to estimates by the World Health Organization focused on Opioid overdose, approximately 115 000 people died of opioid overdose in 2017.”

“Medications such as morphine, fentanyl, and tramadol are commonly used as opioid pain relievers. The WHO further states that it is possible to become dependent on opioids if non-medical use, prolonged use, misuse, and use without medical supervision are involved. Overdoses caused by opioids can be fatal due to their pharmacological effects.”

First cannabis trial clinic in SA

Dr. Shiksha Gallow, the Principal Investigator on the research study, a Cannabis Clinician and global cannabis leader, will work with a team of doctors in the medical cannabis industry – including Dr. Regina Hurley, Dr. Ahmed Jamaloodeen, Dr. Omphemetse Mathibe, and Dr. Xavagne Leigh Fransman.

Gallow said that the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) does not yet have any official cannabis-containing medicines approved for pain relief, though anecdotal evidence and preliminary studies point towards its potential to be highly effective in pain management.

“Chronic pain is defined as pain that lingers for longer than six months and can be categorised as visceral, somatic, and neurogenic. Given the broad spectrum, a wide range of treatments exist, from over-the-counter drugs; to opiates such as morphine, oxycodone, or codeine, which instruct the body’s natural opioid receptors to prevent the nerves responsible for pain from signalling.”

 “In addition, opiates are associated with a plethora of side effects, including sedation, respiratory depression – and even death. With the global increase in opiate addiction, which brings with it far-reaching repercussions – from ill health to broader societal issues such as crime – the research will be focussed on establishing a safer alternative to treating pain.”

Bella Dorrington, a senior researcher at the Cannabis Research Institute of South Africa, said the study has the potential to change the medicinal landscape not only in the country but across the globe.

“CRI is pleased to participate in this study, which aims to emphasise the benefits of cannabis treatment. South Africa is poised to set a standard for medicinal cannabis in the world’s market as we have the resources, technology, and people to make it happen. The culture at our company is one of collaboration, not working in silos.”

ALSO READ: Medicinal cannabis dispensary in Durban

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