What Gas Station Heroin Says About Our Need to Get High

Some, like the world of Western medicine, look at drug use as a medical issue. Others see it as a consequence of the stress of different factors of life. No matter how you look at it, there’s no getting away from it. And it seems like people will do whatever they can to feel better somehow. The latest example is dubbed ‘gas station heroin’. But is there really a threat here; or is this governmental subterfuge in light of the growing opioid issue?

What is gas station heroin?

No, it’s not a Lou Reed song, though it sounds like it could be. And it’s not the title of an art film made by an eager grad student either. It’s not exactly what most people would guess it is, because it doesn’t actually have anything to do with heroin. Heroin is an opioid, a product of the processing of opium. And gas station heroin is not in that class of drugs.

Surprisingly, it’s actually an anti-depressant of the tricyclic class of antidepressants. The official name is tianeptine, and it’s sold under many brand names, including Stablon and Coaxil. It’s technically an atypical tricyclic antidepressant in that it doesn’t necessarily work like other antidepressants. Tricyclics are used primarily for anxiety and mood disorders, and work by inhibiting the reuptake of neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine, and the norepinephrine transporter. By doing so, they increase these neurotransmitters in the brain.

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However, tianeptine is a bit different. It is used for anxiety and depression, but it’s been found that it also acts as an atypical μ-opioid receptor agonist. Which means it promotes more action at μ-opioid receptors, which is what opioids do. So the same drug causing mass issues with addiction and overdose, has at least some similar effects to this antidepressant tianeptine. Tianeptine in high doses is used for recreational use, with the main issue in withdrawal symptoms; though this relates not just to an opioid effect, but to antidepressants in general.

Back several years ago, doctor-prescribed medications weren’t the bigger problem, today they are. And not only does the following information back up how dangerous the medicines offered to us can be, this whole situation shines a light on just how bad our collective need is to get high. Whether considered an actual disorder, or a reaction to the stress of life, it indicates quite an issue when people are using anything possible, just to catch a little buzz.

The current tianeptine issue

It’s certainly not an issue like opioids, and many probably have never heard the names tianeptine or its slang name ‘gas station heroin’. But in some places, its created enough buzz to get the attention of law enforcement, and is now the subject of new worries, and new laws. One of the recent stories related to tianeptine, comes out of Mississippi.

Last month it was reported that this drug is sold, not by pharmacies, but by gas stations and corner stores, with names like Za Za, Tiana, and Red Dawn. It’s found with other supplements, and doesn’t stand out as anything special. It certainly doesn’t require any kind of prescription, though when sold as an antidepressant, it does. However, its not cleared for medical use by the FDA in America, and is only found as a prescription antidepressant in other countries. After trials in 2009, all development of the drug stopped in the US by 2012. Although why this happened, was not made clear.

In Mississippi, doctors are putting out warnings about the safety of this drug, with fear-inducing lines like this one from Dr. Jennifer Bryan, the chairman of the Mississippi delegation of the American Medical Association, “It can kill people, to be quite honest, and it’s highly addictive.” She continued about a specific case, “I had a young woman come to me, and she was a mother, and she was dealing with depression. And a friend told her about Za Za. So she tried it. And I promise you that same day, she said she could not stop, and it was so sad.”

In terms of why its on shelves at all? Bryan explains, “In sneaky situations like tianeptine, something that the FDA on the drug side has not approved for prescription in the United States due to safety reasons, can sneak in the back door as a supplement.”

Is tianeptine actually that dangerous?

Tianeptine is known as gas station heroin

There are plenty of issues with antidepressants, but is this one really *that bad, or just another example of the US government (local or federal) not liking an industry it can’t get in on? The US government loves approving dangerous medications. I mean, it regulates the legal opioid industry, making any talk of illegalizing tianeptine, a massive point-miss if all synthetic opioids (where the real death toll is) don’t follow. So while the government is great at providing us plenty of dangerous pills, it sure seems unhappy about this specific one, which it doesn’t legally sell. Opioids are legally sold.

As far as danger? I can’t find a specific death statistic. In a 2018 review that went over 25 different articles, which contained information on 65 people, it mentioned 15 overdose cases. Overdose doesn’t actually imply death, just taking too much of something. Of those 15 there were three deaths, but all involved one or more other substances, meaning the deaths cannot be put on tianeptine directly. The same report goes on to mention six other deaths, but stipulates they only ‘involve’ the drug, which makes it the same as the three deaths above. In no case has tianeptine been fingered as the only cause of death.

The thing is, I can’t find other information on fatalities at all with this drug, or any real information on disability issues. So it doesn’t sound that bad, right? Especially when opioids are taking out close to 100,000 people a year now. Yet, as those drugs are not banned, states like Mississippi are banning drugs like tianeptine. For 2021, Mississippi reported approximately 491 drug overdose deaths, with suspicion that 71.7% of them (352), were because of opioids, or related.

That same state hasn’t banned any drug associated with those overdoses. However, on March 1st, it did pass legislation to ban tianeptine via House Bill 4. If signed by the governor, the new law will ban the sale and possession of the drug. But it won’t stop any opioid use. So basically, a lesser drug which isn’t associated with that many issues (and none direct that I’ve seen) is being banned, while the #1 overdose drugs, opioids, remain as legal as before.

Where else this is happening, and why it makes no sense

Several other states also made measures against tianeptine, while doing nothing about opioids. In Minnesota its now a Schedule I substance, but I saw not one death statistic. That same state had 1,286 overdose deaths in 2021. 924 were opioid related. Michigan made it a Schedule II drug, but also failed to report any death statistics for it. What Michigan did have, was 2,738 overdose deaths in 2020, with 79% being opioid related.

It should be noted that while Alabama spoke of a crisis related to the drug, it also failed to mention even one death; which makes one wonder how the word ‘crisis’ is defined, when there are drugs out there causing tens of thousands of deaths a year. Of course, that state actually has an opioid crisis, with 343 of the 401 overdoes deaths in 2020, relating to synthetic opioids.

Opioids are legal, while states go after tianeptine
Opioids are legal, while states go after tianeptine

In Tennessee the sale of the drug was outlawed, and it was put in Schedule II of the state’s Controlled Substances list with a class A misdemeanor charge. However, once again, this was done with not one death brought up. Weird, when Tennessee reported 2,388 opioid overdose deaths in 2020. Are we perhaps having our attention turned away from the real problem, by introducing a fake one?

In Oklahoma tianeptine is listed as a drug with a Schedule II ban, but no deaths are reported. What is true, is that Oklahoma had 733 overdose deaths between 2019-2020, 36.3% of which had to do with opioids. Incidentally, meth accounted for about 64%. In Georgia its now also Schedule I. The report referenced, again, mentioned no deaths. The comparison? 2,390 drug overdose deaths in the state in 2021, with 1,718 (71%) attributed to opioids.

In Indiana, the drug was banned in late 2022, but the pattern repeats as the report mentioned no deaths attached. On the other hand, the state had 2,755 overdose deaths in 2021, 85% of which were only fentanyl, meaning synthetic opioids altogether caused more than 85% of deaths in the state. In Ohio, the ban was instituted as an emergency measure, making it a Schedule I substance. Just like the rest, it mentions no death toll with the drug, even as it continues to sell opioids with 81% of overdose deaths in 2020 (5,017 total), due to fentanyl.


Perhaps what gas station heroin shows us more than anything else, is that 1) people want something to make them feel good, and 2) no country or state wants an industry it can’t tax and control. These efforts seem more like subterfuge though, trying to take attention off the lack of action on the real issue, by trying to make this into one. And that doesn’t mean for a second that I think the stuff is okay, but the contradiction of caring about it at all, while doing nothing to ban opioids, makes the whole thing laughable at best.

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Stepping It Up: Canada Approved Two Companies to Sell Cocaine

Sometimes different parts of a government don’t work in tandem the way we think. This idea was epitomized when David Eby, the Premiere of British Columbia, was blindsided by the news that Health Canada made allowances for two companies to legally sell cocaine. Read on to find out more about Canada getting in on the cocaine industry, and the two companies that now have cocaine approvals.

What happened?

Adastra Labs, out of Langley, British Columbia, put out a press statement in the last few days. In it, the company explained it gained an approval back on February 17th, in regards to an amendment to its Controlled Substances Dealer’s License. The amendment involves cocaine. This was news to David Eby, the Premiere of BC, who said if such a move was made, it was done by the federal agency, with no notification to the local government or province.

This comes after British Columbia already decriminalized hard drugs within the province, as a way of dealing with the growing opioid use, and overdose rate. This new policy started at the end of January, and only applies to British Columbia, not the rest of Canada. The reason is that British Columbia specifically applied to the federal government to receive an exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The federal government approved this, but implemented it not as a law, but as a three-year pilot program.

Under the decriminalization, 2.5 grams or less of a drug is no longer criminalized. This accounts for drugs including opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA. BC has had over 11,000 deaths from illicit drugs since 2016, which is why the application was put through, and why the federal government approved it. While such measures have proved useful in other countries like Portugal, one must wonder on the logic of applying the same setup in a circumstance where the drugs are continuously given out by doctors.

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What is allowed?

According to Adastra’s statement, the amended license lets the company “interact” with a max of 250 grams of cocaine, and also allows the company to import coca leaves, for making synthetics. Along with cocaine, the company has an allowance to work with psilocybin and psilocin from magic mushrooms (it can distribute up to 1000 grams). CEO Michael Forbes said the company would figure out the commercialization value within the constructs of its own business model, to formulate a way to move forward with maintaining a safe supply of cocaine to meet demand.

He noted the harm reduction aspect, saying, “Harm reduction is a critically important and mainstream topic, and we are staying at the forefront of drug regulations across the board. We proactively pursued the amendment to our Dealer’s License to include cocaine back in December 2022.”

It seems that Health Canada made the move very quietly, with no one knowing much about it. Perhaps it could foresee some backlash. Said BC legislature, and opposition leader, Kevin Falcon, “Cocaine isn’t prescribed, it isn’t safe, and this is wrong. Commercializing cocaine as a business opportunity amounts to legalizing cocaine trafficking, full stop.”

Spokesman Kevin Hollett of BC Centre on Substance Use, seemed just as confused by the move. He said the agency doesn’t know much, (or anything), about it. He reminded that “To my knowledge, prescribed safer supply in BC is focused on opioids, so I’m not clear how this might fit in, if it does at all.”

What about the second company?

If all this sounds like it could be the made-up antics of a company to get press, then consider that yet another company made a similar press statement. On March 2nd, amid the ire of David Eby for being shut out of the federal government’s decision, Sunshine Earth Labs also announced that it had been approved licensing to both produce and sell cocaine.

The company said in a statement that Health Canada gave permission for it to “legally possess, produce, sell and distribute coca leaf and cocaine,” with the inclusion of morphine, MDMA, and heroin. This is slightly different from Adastra, which also got leeway for using the compounds in psilocybin mushrooms – psilocybin and psilocin – as a part of its own allowance.

Magic mushrooms

Most of the recent relaxation in drug policy in Canada is driven by the opioid crisis and growing overdose rate. With more than 11,000 deaths in recent years in CB alone, and the rise of fentanyl bringing on more and more overdoses, BC is looking to do whatever it can to help the problem. But is this part of it? And how do cocaine allowances and an opioid problem, relate? Health Canada didn’t explain fully, but it did finally make a statement on Friday, March 3rd.

What does Health Canada have to say about it?

This Friday, the government agency finally said something. It said in a statement that “They cannot sell products to the general public,” speaking of the two companies that received licensing for cocaine production and sale. As per Health Canada in reference to Adastra Labs, it said the company couldn’t sell to the public, and was only legally permitted to sell the cocaine – or other included substances – to other dealers for controlled substances, who already hold licensing and have the drugs in question, as part of their license. This includes pharmacists, practitioners, hospitals, and researchers, only.

While this story is only just breaking, according to Adastra Labs CEO Forbes, the company actually received the Controlled Substances Dealer’s license last August. In December, 2022, it requested Health Canada update it with licensing for cocaine. That part was approved in February.

According to Health Canada via a statement, the agency “thoroughly reviews applications to ensure that all the appropriate policies and procedures are in place to maintain public health and safety and security.” And that it had reiterated to the company “the very narrow parameters of their license.” So that “If the strict requirements are not being followed, Health Canada will not hesitate to take action, which may include revoking the license.”

British Columbia and overdoses

Health Canada certainly didn’t say anything about this as something related to the opioid crisis, yet that’s how its framed in most publications. The stories are tied. And that doesn’t make much sense considering the opioid issue involves a doctor’s prescription much of the time, with addictions that started because of actual medical needs. As long as the province allows doctors to continue providing these drugs; it probably shouldn’t expect any measure to work. No place with this issue should.

I’ve said time and time again, that the better answer is an immediate switch to ketamine, but it seems no government wants to break from opioid pharma money to do anything useful. Of course, without direct cocaine sales, the only thing that actually happened here, is the insinuation that cocaine might get clearance for medical use. But that seems pretty unrelated to the opioid and overdose issue.

Canada province British Columbia decriminalized drugs, like cocaine
Canada province British Columbia decriminalized drugs, like cocaine

How big is that issue? In terms of British Columbia, which is the 3rd largest province in Canada with approximately 5.2 million inhabitants, its pretty bad. It declared a public health emergency in 2016 due to the growing number of opioid overdoses. In 2021 there were 2,224+ fatal overdoses specifically in the province, which is 26% higher than the previous year; and 700% increased from seven years before. All told, the region has seen over 11,000 overdose deaths since 2016.

What about fentanyl specifically? In 2021, approximately 83% of fatal overdose victims tested positive for fentanyl, while 187 turned up positive for fentanyl analogue, carfentanil. For the latter, those numbers represent almost triple the number of positive samples from 2016. As for 2021 numbers, its thought that about 71% of fatal overdoses were for people between the ages of 39-59. The biggest issue comes from the following locations within BC: Vancouver, Surrey, and Victoria.

Perhaps the strangest part of the current story, is that its about cocaine, and yet being tied to opioids. A medical cocaine industry, and an opioid overdose issue are unrelated. And while Health Canada isn’t tying the two together, it seems that everyone else wants to, despite a lack of logic for how they fit together. The thing that it looks like is actually happening, is that Canada might be onboard to use cocaine for medical purposes in the future.


Though it doesn’t seem to be directly for end users, Canada did approve two companies to work with and sell cocaine. Perhaps we should remember that some countries like the US, already hold cocaine as a Schedule II drug, meaning it has approved medical uses. Canada has it in Schedule I right now, so what we’re likely seeing, is the beginning of a medical market for it, like the US already has. Why it wasn’t framed this way from the beginning, I really can’t say.

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Worse Than Fentanyl? New Opioid Isotonitazene Deepens Opioid Issue

Isn’t it enough that fentanyl exists? We’ve got people dropping like flies in the US and beyond, with a lot of these deaths attributable to the extremely powerful opioid. Now it looks like an even more potent opioid, isotonitazene, might make the already awful opioid situation, even worse.

What is isotonitazene?

Isotonitazene – aka Iso – is an opioid drug, derived from benzimidazole, an aromatic organic compound. It’s in the nitrobenzimidazoles chemical classing of opioids, which makes it structurally different than other opioids like fentanyl. This drug is thought to be more potent than fentanyl slightly, and about 2.5X the strength of hydromorphone – often more recognizable under its trade name Dilaudid.

Its said that isotonitazene is 20-100 times more powerful than fentanyl, which is about 100X stronger than morphine (which goes in line with isotonitazene being 500X morphine). One truth is, as very little research exists on the compound, the specifics are unclear. Another truth is, it was not isotonitazene that was originally taken off the street in 2019, but a structural analogue called etonitazene, which has shown to provide 1000X the analgesia level in mice than morphine, but only about 60X the potency level in humans.

Isotonitazene is said to have half the potency of etonitazene, and is expected to have that same discrepancy between animals and people. If the original studies were done on animals, then the 500-1000X stronger than morphine might simply relate to animal studies. Most medical sources say it’s only slightly stronger than fentanyl.

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Isotonitazene, as an opioid, has similar characteristics to fentanyl and other opioids, in that it relieves pain, as well as providing the same side effects of nausea, itchiness, and the possibility of overdose due to the depression of the respiratory system. On August 20th, 2020, the DEA did something it has so far refused to do with other opioids like fentanyl, and put isotonitazene in Schedule I on the Controlled Substances list.

Why it classified this drug as 100% illegal, and not the ones more currently responsible for the growing number of opioid overdose deaths, is not immediately clear. Though it fits into the opioid class of drugs, its considered a ‘designer drug’ because it’s synthetic; though realistically, all other pharmaceutical opioids (called synthetic opioids) are also therefore technically designer drugs in the same way. So once again, making that designation for this specific compound, and not the others, makes very little sense.

San Francisco responds to isotonitazene

So far, what’s the damage with isotonitazene? A report earlier this month out of San Francisco expressed the thought that this new opioid on the streets of the California city, could greatly exacerbate the current opioid situation. Much like fentanyl, its being found as an addition to heroine and other opioid products, as a means to increase potency; and is used to make fake drugs.

There aren’t good overdose statistics specifically related to the drug yet, which is something authorities are keeping an eye on moving forward. As an opioid stronger than fentanyl, which would boast similar addiction rates, the unfortunate expectation is that deaths should increase proportionally to whatever increase in use it undergoes.

For a city like San Francisco, it’s making authorities nervous, as the city had in the neighborhood of 620 overdose deaths last year, with 72% of them attributed to fentanyl (and, I imagine, other synthetic opioids). This, of course, is representative of the overall growing fatalities related to these drugs in many places.

Said Matt Dorsey, District 6 Supervisor, “I just want to make sure that our city is set up to monitor it and to be testing for it.” He sent a letter to the medical examiner in regards to this, saying, “I just want to make sure that the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has everything it needs to test for every potential drug that’s costing the lives of anyone in San Francisco.”

Where else is Isotonitazene causing problems?

Opioids might be known most for their damage in America, but the reality is that heroin and synthetic opioids cause problems in many countries, and isotonitazene is now a part of this. Though the article about San Francisco came out in February 2023, Isotonitazene has been causing problems elsewhere in the world already.

One of the interesting things about Isotonitazene is that while it was seen in several cases from 2019 – through 2020, it was replaced by other similar opioids upon the US putting the drug in Schedule I. Perhaps this is an indication that if the US wants to get rid of fentanyl, illegalizing it might help. Not to ignore that isotonitazene incidences were replaced by another similar drug metonitazene; but the situation does indicate that putting the effort into a formal illegalization, could help if there are support services to keep patients from picking up another opioid instead.

A 2021 study called Emerging characteristics of isotonitazene-involved overdose deaths: a case-control study investigated isotonitazene deaths from January 1, 2020 – July 31, 2020, in two locations: Cook County, Illinois and Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. It compared it to other synthetic opioids. In these counties, there were 40 overdose deaths from isotonitazene, and 981 from other synthetic opioids. The study noted that isotonitazene deaths usually occurred with other medications, more frequently than the other synthetic opioids; with particularly large concurrent use of the benzodiazepine flualprazolam.

Opioid overdose rates

Another report from UNODC in 2020 said that isotonitazene was only responsible for eight deaths in the US between June 2019 and December 2019. Either these numbers are lower than reality, the ones above are higher than reality, or the drug gained popularity greatly between 2019 and 2020.

The UK is another location where a little data does exist on deaths. According to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, Isotonitazene was related to 24 deaths in 2021. In comparison, 2021 saw 2,219 opioid deaths in the UK (about 45% of all overdoses for the year).

A case report out of Switzerland in 2021 identified three different cases of deaths due to Isotonitazene, though in each case it was used with other drugs. In two cases this involved benzodiazepines among other drugs, and one included alcohol.

Right now, the stated cases are the only ones to give death statistics for the drug. Though it seemed to have its glory period between 2019 and 2021, the recent incidence of it in San Francisco signals that it either is coming back, or the article was more a hype piece about a drug that really isn’t seen often. Given the popularity of opioids, and the desire to get more and powerful versions, its not strange to think its making a reappearance.

The opioid epidemic

Opioids have become one of the bigger health concerns, with the largest issues still in the US, though countries like the UK and Canada certainly have their own issues. The choice by British Columbia in Canada to decriminalize all drugs is in direct relation to the growing opioid issue.

Even so, the US is where the meat of the problem is found. From 2019 to 2020 to 2021, overdose rates went from 73,000 to 93,000 to 107,622. And how many of these deaths did opioids account for? While we were never given an estimate for 2021 that I can find, its expected that over 68,000 of the 93,000 from 2020 were opioid-related, and over 48,000 of the 73,000 from 2019 were as well. Following the trajectory, it could be that close to 100,000 deaths in 2021 were from opioids.

It will be time before we have 2022 numbers, but nothing indicates a decrease, and everything indicates an increase. What did come out earlier this year, is New York City data from 2021 on opioid overdoses. 668 lost their lives that year to drug overdoses, and it was established that just fentanyl (minus other synthetic opioids) was responsible for 80% of these. Overdose numbers for 2021 were 78% higher than in 2019. This makes it the most common drug to show up in overdose scenarios, for five years straight.

The problem is so bad, and is so squarely put on the pharmaceutical companies involved, that in February 2022, Johnson & Johnson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson, offered Native American communities $590 to settle lawsuits against them for their drugs destroying so many communities. On a global level, the payout number was settled at $26 billion for the same companies.

Multi-billions to be paid by pharma companies over opioids
Multi-billions to be paid by pharma companies over opioids

And while they give the ridiculous line that these payouts don’t constitute guilt: Johnson & Johnson quote: “This settlement is not an admission of any liability or wrongdoing and the company will continue to defend against any litigation that the final agreement does not resolve,” the day I see a pharmaceutical company choose of their own volition to give up that much of their profits… well, you see where I’m going with this.

Those lawsuits aren’t even the end of it. That announcement about the $26 billion, came before another settlement with the entire state of Idaho. In this one, the same companies are paying yet another $119 million. And that’s just Idaho, imagine if the rest of the US states did the same. Maybe some are now.

It doesn’t even stop there. For their part in it, the pharmacy companies CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart were up against more than 300 lawsuits for their participation in the opioid game. And as of November 2022, they’re set to pay out $13 billion.

Perhaps the grossest issue of all? The US government, and any government that allows the drugs through regulation; is not only saying this is all okay (despite whatever lines they use to sound otherwise), they’re promoting the problem further. Hell, last year, it came up to lower guidelines for opioid prescriptions. I mean, is there a better way to say the government is complicit? And all this while ketamine has repeatedly shown comparable abilities for pain control, long lasting effects well beyond treatment, and no addiction or real overdose potential.


Do we have to worry about isotonitazene? With the current opioid issue, you better believe it. The one comforting fact, perhaps, is that at least with this one, the US government was smart enough to actually make it completely illegal.

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New Study: Ketamine Can Bring Down Use of Opioids

Opioid use is out of control in the US, and for many addicts, the whole awful ride started with a legitimate pain issue. So, what to do when it’s your treatment that causes your problem? Maybe, find a better treatment. A new study backs up that ketamine during surgery can lessen the need for opioids to manage pain after. Read on to find out more about this, and why ketamine should immediately replace the drug which is killing close to 100,000 people a year.

The study

This was not a study that involved finding test subjects and having them participate in clinical trials. This study, like many put out today, was done by reviewing previous research to find connections. This method of research must be taken with a grain of salt, as there are no controls, and the study writers have nothing to do with data collection. Even so, though these studies are often thrown together in what seems like a haphazard manner for the purpose of gaining headlines, (often off of misguided, misquoted or misused research), they often do provide some insight, like the study I’m talking about now.

The study, entitled A Systematic Review of the Efficacy and Safety of Ketamine in Total Joint Arthroplasty evaluated data from studies found via the databases: MEDLINE, Embase and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials. The intended purpose was to evaluate how safe and useful ketamine is in primary hip and knee replacement cases; in order to support the combined clinical practice guidelines of different medical associations.

Studies included were published before 2020, and on the subject of total joint arthroplasty treatment. According to the study, “All included studies underwent qualitative assessment and quantitative homogeneity testing followed by a systematic review and direct comparison meta-analysis to assess the efficacy and safety of ketamine. After a critical appraisal of 136 publications, 7 high-quality studies were included for analyses.” In total, four studies showed intraoperative ketamine as superior to placebo for pain relief after surgery, while three studies didn’t find a significant difference compared to placebo.

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Six studies were analyzed for postoperative opioid use, and of them, five came to the conclusion that intraoperative ketamine allowed for less overall opioid intake after the operation, though the last one did not find a significant difference in comparison to placebo. Four studies also looked at complications, and in those studies it was found that versus a placebo, ketamine brought down the instances of postoperative nausea and vomiting.

In the write-up, researchers state: “Intraoperative intravenous ketamine reduces postoperative opioid consumption and may reduce postoperative pain and nausea and vomiting after primary TJA… Ketamine administered intraoperatively is safe but may increase the risk of postoperative delirium and hallucinations, particularly among elderly patients after TJA.”

Implications of the study

The term ‘intraoperative ketamine’ refers to ketamine used during an operation, not before or after. So its not a study looking at pain management of ketamine versus anything else. Rather, it looks at the outcome of using ketamine vs other medications during an operation. The term ‘arthroplasty’ refers to the replacement of a joint, like hips or knees.

In this process, an artificial joint is put in place of a damaged joint. Though sometime just one part is replaced, it’s very often the entire joint. All studies in this evaluation were done on participants with total joint replacements. Total hip arthroplasty is referred to as THA, total knee arthroplasty is referred to as TKA, and total joint arthroplasty is referred to as TJA.

One of the implications of the study, is that the use of ketamine during an operation, can have a lasting benefit after the operation. Enough so that less opioid medication is then needed to manage pain. This implies that effects of the ketamine go on for a significant period of time.

After all, a medication that simply wears off, requires something new to be taken to counter pain. Think of how much pain is involved with having your hip or knee torn out, and a fake one put in. That’s exactly what’s happening, and it would be extremely difficult to get rid of postoperative pain considering the magnitude of the operation.

However, if the ketamine used during the operation, can create a benefit wherein patients don’t require postoperative opioids – (or less of them), this speaks volumes to the ability of ketamine to bring down the opioid problem. Keep in mind, if its shown to bring down post-operative opioid use for joint replacements, chances are that this is the case for other surgeries as well. And the implication to that is huge, especially in a country (and world) with an increasing problem with opioid deaths.

How big is the problem with opioids? Preliminary overdose numbers for 2021 put deaths at over 107,000 according to the CDC, for the US alone. No number was given for synthetic opioid overdoses specifically, but we can know that the number is high, and takes up the majority of the deaths. We know that because this is a trajectory we’ve been looking at for a while. In 2020, overdose deaths totaled over 93,000, with over 68,000 attributed to opioids. In 2019, the overdose total was approximately 73,000, with around 48,000 earmarked as opioid deaths.

Can ketamine bring down opioid use for pain?

If you’re on opioids because you like how they make you feel; it probably doesn’t matter to you how they affect pain. If you’re on them because you had a pain issue that since resolved, but led to an addiction in the process; it also probably won’t matter to you if ketamine is a better option for pain relief. But if you’re taking opioids to deal with a pain issue now, and that pain issue keeps you on the meds; then this information is much more relevant.

There are two interesting aspects of ketamine. The first is that it treats both acute and chronic pain, but without lowering breathing and blood pressure rates. Opioids depress the central nervous system, and overdose occurs when the body can no longer handle the downer effect; which is an issue because of tolerance to other effects. As ketamine can treat pain without the same kind of depression to the CNS, its not associated with overdose deaths. To the point that there really is no death toll. This isn’t to say no one was ever hurt with ketamine, but the numbers are so negligible, they’re nearly impossible to find.

The other interesting thing about ketamine for pain, is that it lasts well after the treatment. And I don’t mean for 4-6 hours. According to research, it can last for weeks at a time, possibly even months. This is similar to the same thing seen with ketamine treatments for depression and other psychological issues. After however many initial sessions it takes, the effects can last weeks to months for those who do respond. Can opioids do that? Not a chance. One of the big issues with opioid addiction, came from the initial lies around Oxycontin lasting a particular amount of time, which it actually rarely did.

If all of this sounds like not what you’re used to hearing, check out the research yourself. Like this 2020 review Ketamine vs Opioids for Acute Pain in the Emergency Department, or this 2018 review, A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Ketamine as an Alternative to Opioids for Acute Pain in the Emergency Department, or this 2019 research entitled Effect of Intranasal Ketamine vs Fentanyl on Pain Reduction for Extremity Injuries in Children: The PRIME Randomized Clinical Trial. All of these show how ketamine gives opioids a run for their money when it comes to treating acute pain.

In terms of chronic pain, this review Ketamine for chronic pain: risks and benefits, from 2014 shows that after initial infusions, effects can last for up to three months. And this review from 2019 backs up the idea that pain relief is continuing after infusions, though it found a shorter period of up to about eight weeks max. In both these reviews for use with chronic pain, ketamine showed an ability on par, or better, than opioids for actual pain relief; with the benefit of continued effects well after treatment. And all this without the threat of addiction or death.

This new study backs up, in a roundabout way, that ketamine has a long-lasting effect. It strongly implies that ketamine used during a surgery, can influence the need for pain medication after surgery. To the point of lessening the need for opioid medications in postoperative care. Perhaps in the coming months to years, we’ll hear way more about this, and how ketamine in general, can replace the use of synthetic opioids for pain control.


The opioid situation is insanely awful, especially when considering it doesn’t have to happen. What all this research shows, more than anything, is that we’re continuously told the wrong story. And in continuously telling it wrong; more people die.

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The Detriments of Long-Term Opioid Use

We hear about opioid overdose deaths everyday in the US, but there’s a whole other downside to remember: the effects of long-term opioid use on health in general. So aside from falling down dead from overloading the system, here are some other things that can be expected if you’re popping these pills for years at a time.

Well, what about that overdose risk?

Obviously, ancillary medical problems are an issue, but what we hear about most are not the long-term effects of opioid use, but of the more immediate overdose issue. How much of an issue is this? Well pretty big, and growing at an incredibly fast rate. In fact, that’s part of the general scariness of this issue, not that it exists, but that it seems to grow massively at every juncture.

The last numbers put out on the issue came from preliminary data released by the CDC for 2021. According to this data, there were approximately 107,000 overdose deaths in 2021, up from 93,000 in 2020, and 71,000 in 2019. These numbers account for all overdose deaths from illicit drugs, but we know opioids make up the lion’s share of them. Though we don’t have a more specific breakdown for 2021, we know that of the 93,000 of 2020, that about 68,000 were related to opioids. And that of 2019 numbers, about 48,000 of the deaths came from synthetic opioids. For comparison, that year, there were less than 15,000 heroin overdoses.

This problem has gotten so out of hand, that states like New York and Rhode Island are already instituting safe-use site measures to give those in need, a safe place to use their drugs. Along with testing to ensure no fentanyl, emergency services, and other social services.

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It’s even got to the point that some places, like British Columbia, in Canada, are working to decriminalize all drugs, just to make it easier for people using opioids, to do what they have to without further punishment. Whether these are actually measures to help people, though, is questionable, as they mainly seek to promote the general problem, rather than finding ways to fix it.

If you want to know how ubiquitous needle disposal apparatus is in America, consider that at this year’s MJBizCon, which took place in the Convention Center of Las Vegas, there were needle depositories in the women’s bathroom. Apparently it’s expected that literally anywhere, someone may need to get rid of needles.

Damage from long-term opioid use: colon

Maybe you started on opioids the way many people do, to deal with a pain issue. And maybe you’re one of those people that loves the way the drugs feel. It almost doesn’t matter why a person started if they’re going to take them for years of time. Maybe you’re one of those people who takes them in a controlled enough way that you don’t have to worry about overdosing on them. Well, hate to break it to you, but these are hardcore medications that your body doesn’t expect to deal with, and they come with a myriad of long-term health issues, which vary by user.

One of the big problems, is issues in the gut. Opioids decrease general activity in the guts, which is why another one of their uses is for diarrhea. It essentially works to control it, and in doing so, can create constipation instead. This effect of creating constipation isn’t acclimated to, and in fact, tends to get worse over time. Meaning long-term opioid users can develop different issues related to their guts and colon.

Take Matthew Perry, for example, who we all know as Chandler from the long-running Friends. Throughout his professional life we’ve heard different stories of his issues with drugs, but perhaps the most daunting came recently from an autobiography he put out. In it, he details how his colon burst as a result of opioid activity in the guts. In his case, the incident led to a two-week coma, and nine-months with a colostomy bag. For anyone unfamiliar with the latter term, it’s a bag worn outside the body, which is hooked up directly to the body, and which collects the feces, as they can no longer go through the damaged colon. Sound like a fun way to conduct your social life?

This happens due to the colon stretching out of shape, which it can’t always heal from. If a person already has a bowel issue, opioids can make it worse, even causing perforations, which is apparently how Perry ended up in the situation he did. What happened to Perry might be one of the rarer cases, but with increased use of these medications, rare cases become more of a norm.

Damage from long-term opioid use: blood-oxygen levels and endocrine system

Many aspects of opioids are acclimated to with regular use. This unfortunately can include the effects on pain and sedation, but doesn’t include the effects on breathing. Opioid are known for depressing the respiratory center of the brain, the part that controls breathing. If enough is taken, a person can stop breathing, and this is how many people overdose.

However, even if a person doesn’t die, this can also lead to lowered blood-oxygen levels. This happens a lot when doses are increased, which becomes standard for these medications since other effects, like pain-relieving effects, are acclimated to, leading to a need for more to get the same relief. As large increases are often experienced in a short period of time, this creates a problem with users having low blood-oxygen levels.

Opioid long-term effect on colon

And then there are the effects on testosterone. Called hypogonadism, this applies to both men and women with extended use of the medications, and means a fall in testosterone levels. As these issues become more evident through time and increased overall use of the medications, this issue has presented itself, but with little known as to how reversible the effects are.

What has been noticed as well, are symptoms like amenorrhea in women, reduced desire for sex, as well as infertility (in both sexes), and erectile dysfunction in men.

Damage from long-term opioid use: the brain and other issues

Let’s be honest for a second, the reason people often get addicted to opioids, is because they’re affecting the brain, and bringing on feelings of euphoria. Anytime something is taken repeatedly that can impact the brain, there’s a question of what it’s doing long-term. In the case of these meds, perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that long-term opioid use can cause changes in behavior and cognition, though much is reversible.

In the short term it does get in the way of the ability for concentration, as well as affecting abstract thinking. Not only that, use of the drug can lead to a diminished experience of pleasure, and can cause people to lose interest in activities that used to make them happy.

Effects of long-term opioid use
Effects of long-term opioid use

Another thing often seen, related to the sedation and disorientation effects of the drugs, is simply that people are more likely to hurt themselves. This is seen mainly though falls where bones are fractured or broken. It applies most to the elderly, and is similar to another class of drugs, benzodiazepines, which also cause sedation and disorientation.

Opioids have also shown to have an effect on the immune system and immunity. The immunomodulating effects of the drug, seen in both human and animal studies, effect immune effector cells, as well as the central nervous system, in the form of immunosuppression. This means the immune system is being suppressed, and won’t work as well. In animal studies specifically, opioids have shown to effect antimicrobial response and anti-tumor surveillance in the body.

Just to finish it all off, long-term opioid use can actually do something paradoxical, it can create a greater sensitivity to pain, which, when you think about it, is really not helpful considering their main purpose is in pain suppression. This phenomenon, called hyperalgesia, is generally only seen when there is no tolerance built to the analgesic effects of the meds. This pain doesn’t relate to the original pain suffered, and is generally less-well defined from the original pain issue. No matter how you look at it though, a pain medication that goes on to cause new forms of pain, is certainly not ideal.


Opioids cause much damage, both in the overdose deaths they promote, as well as the long-term issues that come from extended use. More and more, it should be asked why other, less dangerous drugs like ketamine, aren’t immediately being substituted to help ease this growing opioid issue.

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Study: Medical Cannabis Brought Down Opioid Use in 79%

There are different pain options out there, though the big issue right now is the growing opioid epidemic. Counter to this, an entire ketamine industry is flourishing in the gray market to help people deal with their pain (among other issues). And another front-runner in this battle is medical cannabis. In a recent study, it was found that medical cannabis use brought down opioid (and other medication) use in participants, in 79% of the population studied.

Details of the study

Published earlier this year, the study Medical Cannabis Patients Report Improvements in Health Functioning and Reductions in Opiate Use looks at self-reporting of pain patients to establish the effects that medical cannabis has on other pain medication-taking. According to the research team, “The purpose of this cross-sectional observational study was to identify and report on the characteristics, ailments, and medical cannabis usage of Florida medical cannabis patients, as well as their perceptions of pain medication use and health functioning after legalized access to medical cannabis.”

Investigators looked at it from a few different standpoints, “(1) characterize the demographics and use patterns of participants who had physician-approved medical cannabis access, (2) to provide information on patient perceptions of changes in health functioning after initiation of medical cannabis use and (3) examine participant perceptions of the effects of medical cannabis access on their use of OBPM (opioid based pain medication)”

Medical cannabis treatment

In order to do this, researchers recruited 2,183 patients from medical dispensaries across Florida, and administered a questionnaire of 66 questions. The survey took into account demographics, health of participants, current use of medicines, “along with items from the Medical Outcomes Survey (SF-36) to assess health functioning before and after cannabis initiation.”

95% of participants were between the ages of 20-70 years of age. The majority were female at over 54%, 85% were white, and only 47% were employed. ~61% reported that prior to using medical cannabis, they were using other pain medications. All participants were in fact registered medical marijuana users in the state of Florida.

The majority, 79%, claimed a reduction in other medication usage, or completely stopping other medications. 11.47% reported improved functionality. Of the people in the study, 49.92% had complaints of both pain and some form of mental health issue, while just over 9% were solely concerned about pain.

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How did these people use their medical cannabis?

When looking at self-report studies, it means there isn’t a specific testing regime. In some studies, participants are given a specific amount of a specific medication. Or their behaviors are watched within a lab setting. In a self-report study, it’s more about investigators essentially taking a look at what people are doing outside of a lab setting. This means there can be great diversity in behavior, even when its about the same thing.

Researchers found that participants all used medical cannabis in their own ways, though the majority did use it daily. 54.99% not only used it daily, but used it many times throughout the day. A smaller 24.55% used it daily, but not as frequently throughout the day; 9.72% used daily, but only 1-2 times per day; and 8.66% used it daily, but only in the evenings. In terms of how necessary they saw their own use, 60.60% thought they had it right on the nose; while 7.21% thought they might be overusing a bit. 12.22% thought they could possibly use an increase.

In terms of how long these participants had been medical marijuana patients, a small number were long time users of 10 years or more – 7.86%, though the majority had used for less time. 65.10% had used it for one year or less, and 20.99% had been using it for 1-3 years. 90.59% reported medical cannabis as positively effecting their ailments. Less than 2% of participants reported it either didn’t work well, or it didn’t work at all. 88.67% put a high importance on medical cannabis for their quality of life.

Since researchers wanted to compare how life was before and after initiation of medical cannabis, they assessed health functioning and limitations from health issues, prior to starting and after starting. The largest responding group said they improved, or stayed the same (due to a disability). Although some did report the lack of improvement, at no point was it ever a majority that a symptom worsened, although in some cases, this was indeed reported.

Categories where there was a lot of improvement, included ‘physical functioning’, ‘bodily pain’, and ‘social functioning’. After analysis, all categories “indicated significant differences after initiation of medical cannabis use, with all health functioning domain scores showing significant improvement.”

Did medical cannabis really help decrease opioid usage?

At a time when opioid use and overdose deaths are out-of-control, it becomes extremely important for pain patients to have options that are less likely to get them addicted, or result in an overdose death. In 2021 alone, the CDC reported preliminary numbers that put the drug overdose rate at about 107,000. Though this accounts for all drug classes, we know that the grand majority were likely opioid-related. We know this because of the over 93,000 deaths in 2020, over 68,000 were from opioids, and of the ~73,000 overdose deaths of 2019, about 48,000 were synthetic opioid-related. So it stands to reason that a pretty large chunk of the most recent number, is also due to opioids.

Medical cannabis vs opioid medications
Medical cannabis vs opioid medications

At the crux of this issue is a system that continues to allow the problem to fester. Not only has the government done nothing to stop this industry, it continues to promote it through regulation. In fact, earlier this year it proposed to loosen guidelines for prescribing, rather than tighten them; though it should be mentioned that these guidelines have no legal value to begin with. As this is a case of the doctor being the dealer, it makes it that much harder to treat, since the very doctors expected to be looking out for patients, aren’t. And this makes the application of other options, like medical cannabis, not just important, but extremely necessary.

So what did this study turn up in terms of the ability to get patients to use less opioids and other standard pain medications? Prior to medical cannabis initiation, 36.82% were using hydrocodone-acetaminophen; 26.78% were on oxycodone-acetaminophen; and 10-20% reported use of oxycodone, hydrocodone, and codeine by themselves. After medical marijuana use started, the number of patients using opioid medications dropped to under 7.5%.

The medications that had been used the most, were reduced a much as 5X. For example, those using hydrocodone-acetaminophen went down to 7.31% from the original 26.78%, while use of oxycodone-acetaminophen, went down to 4.78%.

Analyses showed that not only were less people using, but they were also using less. As per researchers, “The paired t-tests also showed the same pattern, the mean number of uses for each medication after medical cannabis initiation was significantly lower than before, and the same finding was seen for the mean of the total number of different medications.” They continued, “The average number of those who reported using none of the listed medications was also significantly higher than before.”

So, 60.98% reported using opioids before starting medical cannabis. 70.54% of that number had been on such medications for two or more years before initiating medical cannabis treatments. 93.36% of the previous opioid users reported some sort of change to their standard medication regimens once starting medical cannabis. A majority of 79.25% reported that they substantially reduced the amount of medications taken, or stopped all other medications entirely. 11.47% said they functioned better because of being able to decrease their opioid usage.

While its not a huge percent, it is of note that 2.71% said they stopped all other pain and psychiatric medications. Only 1.77% simply added on the medical cannabis without making other changes. And whereas 4.80% couldn’t be categorized, no one indicated a greater use of other medications after beginning medical cannabis treatments.


This is not the biggest study out there, but the results are rather profound, especially if similar investigations can turn up similar results. The most interesting aspect of a study like this, is that it shows how much patients want to make changes, especially in the way of getting away from more harmful medications.

However, this understanding does come with the caveat that all these participants were looking for another option. They were found in medical dispensaries, after all. It could be that such a population represents the people that medical cannabis can help, while cutting out those who didn’t have as good of an experience and didn’t return to the dispensary for more medication. To know more, we need more research. For now, however, a study like this provides a strong indication that medical cannabis can greatly help those in pain, and that it can help to steer people away from the opioid drugs claiming so many lives.

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BnOCPA & The New Way to Kill Your Pain

With the opioid epidemic underway, the question of how to reverse direction is on everyone’s mind. Governments are succumbing to pressure; passing decriminalization measures, and opening safe use sites, but none of this attacks the problem. Though a ketamine answer exists, its been all but ignored in terms of the general public, which is 100% unaware of this. And now, a new pain pill is under research, but is still completely untested. What is BnOCPA, and how does it measure up?

There’s a new non-opioid painkiller under research called BnOCPA, and it might be a very much needed alternative to the current and awful opioid situation. We’re a cannabis and psychedelics news site which specializes in breaking news and ongoing stories in these industries, and beyond. We provide the Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter for readers to stay updated, as well as obtain access to an array of product promotions on vapes and other smoking devices, edibles, and cannabinoid compounds including the super-popular Delta 8 & HHC. Head to our ‘best of’ lists for more info, and buy yourself some awesome new swag.

Why it matters

There are a ton of pharma products on the market, and plenty for pain. Aside from opioids, which dominate the scene, we’re pretty used to our Tylenol, and NSAIDS like aspirin, and ibuprofen. For the entirety of my life, the process has been to pop a pill for pretty much anything. Skin your knee? Take a pill. Got a headache? Take a pill. That time of the month? Take a pill. It’s a wonder anyone knows what pain feels like anymore.

Prior to our new-age pharma world, if you hurt yourself, you just had to deal with it. Or use the natural medicine version, which, let’s be honest, isn’t the worst. All those opioids that are causing so much problem, are all based on compounds from the poppy plant, and those compounds have existed, and been implored in local medicine traditions, for as long as people have lived in organized communities.

In light of the massive addiction and death numbers of late, it’s a wonder people are more willing to pop the pill, than simply tough it out. After all, it was standard once to have children without an epidural, or to cut off diseased limbs without an anesthetic. While I’m not saying progress isn’t good, I am saying that in this case, it came with a cost. Obviously, the logic of ‘we didn’t need it before, so we don’t need it now’ isn’t the best, but it’s not worthless either. It mainly fails because if nothing else, we live way longer than humans used to, meaning an increase in pain related issues from aging, and overall more years to experience accidents and mishaps.

BnOCPA vs opioids

As of right now, that issue of trying to get away from the pain, is manifesting in the form of overdose deaths from opioids. According to preliminary data released by the CDC in May of this year, 2021 had approximately 107,622 overdose deaths. And while we don’t know the exact breakdown of causes, we know that of 2020’s 93,000 overdose deaths, that over 68,000 were opioid related. That’s a lot of people dying from drugs prescribed by a doctor. How prevalent are these prescriptions? As of a 2021 analysis, in 2019, 22.1% of all US adults with chronic pain, obtained an opioid prescription within the last three months of the question. In 2017, it accounted for 191 million prescriptions.

BnOCPA – What is this stuff?

Right now, when it comes to dealing with chronic and extreme pain, opioids are the go-to prescription medication, though this has shown to be a very bad idea in terms of addiction rates to the medications, and accompanied overdoses. Opioids are synthetically made compounds based on the poppy plant. When compounds are taken directly from the plant, they’re called opiates, but when made synthetically, but based on the compounds of the plant, they’re opioids. Opioids include drugs like fentanyl and the main component of Oxycontin, oxycodone.

Opioids assert their action by attaching to opioid receptors in the nervous system, and gastrointestinal tract. The three main opioid receptor classes are mu, kappa, and delta – μ, κ, δ, though there are 17 of these receptors currently known about. They operate as heavy pain relievers, as well as anesthetics; with prescription uses for things like diarrhea and cough suppression as well.  

BnOCPA is a newly made synthetic compound that recently came to global attention with the results of a recent investigation. BnOCPA, or benzyloxy-cyclopentyladenosine, is a G-protein-coupled receptor agonist (GPCRs). Research into this compound was carried out by a group of investigators based out of the University of Warwick’s School of Life Sciences (in conjunction with University of Bern, University of Cambridge, Coventry University, Monash University, and different industrial organizations). According to their study, Selective activation of Gαob by an adenosine A1 receptor agonist elicits analgesia without cardiorespiratory depression, this compound:

“…is a potent and powerful analgesic but does not cause sedation, bradycardia, hypotension or respiratory depression.” This occurs because of “BnOCPA’s unique and exquisitely selective activation of Gob among the six Gαi/o subtypes, and in the absence of β-arrestin recruitment.”

They go on to explain that the compound “demonstrates a highly-specific Gα-selective activation of the native A1R,” which “sheds new light on GPCR signalling,” and which “reveals new possibilities for the development of novel therapeutics based on the far-reaching concept of selective Gα agonism.” This is different from other adenosine receptors, like the A1 receptors, which though showing potential in this realm, are weighed down by side effects of sedation and cardiorespiratory depression.

BnOCPA as opioid alternative
BnOCPA as opioid alternative

How does BnOCPA differ from opioids?

When it comes to extreme, chronic pain, medications like Advil and Tylenol can’t help much, and we know this because enough time has gone by to understand where their abilities end. Different kinds of pain medication vary in how much coverage they can realistically provide. When looking at other options to opioids, this has to be considered, because the medication must be strong enough to solve the problem, while not including the negative side effects that lead to overdose and death.

Opioid receptors are also G-protein-coupled receptors, meaning opioids attach to the same kinds of receptors as this new compound, BnOCPA. But that doesn’t mean the two different compounds create the same response, and there’s a particular reason why. G-proteins cause a lot of different effects, and drugs like opioids inadvertently set off several kinds of them because they’re not selective in where they bind. The pain-relieving effects are therefore included with unwanted effects (or side effects), as well.

BnOCPA functions a bit differently in that its way more selective about where it binds, thus only triggering one kind of G-protein. This ability for selection can minimize the amount of side effects that come with the medication, hence the aforementioned ability for pain control, without causing sedation or respiratory depression. As sedation and respiratory depression lead to overdose when too much of a drug creating these actions is taken, the ability to get around this means a possible way to treat pain, without worrying about a death toll.

According to lead researcher Dr. Mark Wall, “The selectivity and potency of BnOCPA make it truly unique and we hope that with further research it will be possible to generate potent painkillers to help patients cope with chronic pain.”

This finding came unexpectedly. Says Professor Bruno Frenguelli of the research team, “This is a fantastic example of serendipity in science. We had no expectations that BnOCPA would behave any differently from other molecules in its class, but the more we looked into BnOCPA we discovered properties that had never been seen before, and which may open up new areas of medicinal chemistry.”

What do we actually know beyond these statements? Unfortunately, nothing. While it sounds super awesome thus far, it should be remembered that this is one study on a compound that’s never been used before. It must be researched further, and undergo a slew of testing, including human trials, before anything further is known for sure. We don’t know what kind of pain it can handle, how safe it is for long term use, or if there is an addiction potential. Right now, the only thing we know is that an untested compound was created, that might provide an alternative to opioids.

Why not ketamine?

Ketamine as opioid alternative
Ketamine as opioid alternative

I harp on this a lot, but for good reason. Yeah, there’s a massive issue right now with opioids killing people. So massive that to cope with it, some locations are giving up and decriminalizing the drugs, or instituting programs like safe use sites to try to minimize deaths. However, despite all measures, overdose rates are very clearly rising, indicating that nothing is getting better, and that even bigger problems should be expected in the future.

So, yeah, its great that alternatives are getting some attention, but let’s be honest for a second, BnOCPA is new, and untested. Maybe it provides a better option, but we won’t know that for quite some time, because long term data requires a lot of time, or its not long term data. We can only know those answers by people using it through time, or studies that follow long-term use. Meaning since we have this problem right now, if there is another method that is tested, and safe, and which might provide extra benefits, like long-lasting relief between administration sessions, it should be used. Immediately. Right?

Well, we have a drug that is comparable to opioids in terms of chronic and acute pain management. One which, like BnOCPA, has that ability for pain relief without causing sedation or cardiac depression, and which actually has the capacity to work for months after administration (find me an opioid that lasts the amount of time its supposed to, let alone longer). And yet here we are talking about a new and untested compound, instead. Maybe BnOCPA does work, is safe, and isn’t addictive, but you know what we already know works, is safe, and isn’t addictive? Ketamine.

The real question when a story like this comes out, isn’t whether BnOCPA can provide a better option to opioids, but why we aren’t talking about the already tested and safe medications we actually have access to now. Sure, its great to create and research new compounds, but when it comes to an answer to the opioid epidemic, and one that is accessible immediately, BnOCPA isn’t it. However, ketamine is.


The pharma world is a confusing place, and its not always clear why one thing is pushed and another is not. While BnOCPA might be a new contender in the opioid battle, if we really want to win this war, we need to use all the artillery in our arsenal. And right now, a new and untested compound doesn’t compare to one that’s been around since the 60’s, with accumulated use and safety information since that time.

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Big Pharma To Pay Native American Tribes $590 Million Over Opioids

The opioid crises isn’t just a standard drug crises. It’s a drug crises started by the US government and pharmaceutical companies. So it makes sense that these entities should have to pay out for their mistakes. This time around, according to a new offered settlement, Johnson & Johnson and other pharma companies, will pay Native American tribes $590 million over opioids.

Big Pharma paying out to Native American tribes for damage caused by opioids is certainly a positive move, but will it actually help stop the problem? What must be done to minimize this death count in the future? And can cannabis, ketamine, or kratom help? We’re devoted to covering the growing cannabis and psychedelics industries. Make sure to sign up for The THC Weekly Newsletter to stay informed on everything important going on today, as well as to get access to exclusive deals on flowers, vapes, edibles, and much more! We’ve also got great offers on cannabinoids like HHC-O, Delta 8Delta 9 THCDelta-10 THCTHCOTHCVTHCP HHC , which you can find by going to our “Best-of” lists!

What are opioids?

Opioids are a class of drugs that can appear as synthetically made, or naturally occurring. The naturally occurring plant is the poppy, which produces opium that morphine and codeine can be extracted from, among other compounds. Opium is often, through processing, turned into drugs like heroin. Synthetic versions of the drug are at this point way more common, encompassing, codeine (synthetically made), hydrocodone, and fentanyl.

Opioids effect opioid receptors in the central and peripheral nervous systems, as well as the gastrointestinal tract. The three main opioid receptor classes are, μ, κ, δ (mu, kappa, and delta), however as many as 17 in total have been found. Opioids are known for being powerful pain relievers and anesthetics. They are also used medically for diarrhea and cough suppression. Effects of the drugs include the user feeling itchy, euphoria, sedation, nausea, constipation, and respiratory depression. These drugs produce tolerance in the user, meaning the user has to keep using more to achieve the same effect.

Legal opioids are controlled substances, as it’s not terribly difficult to overdose on them. They are also often used in conjunction with other drugs like benzodiazepines and alcohol, which also cause respiratory depression. Benzodiazepines in particular are used to mitigate the sick feeling that opioids can give, and are often a comorbid reason for overdose. Opioids cause extreme physical addiction, and extreme withdrawal when a user tries to quit, which in the worst cases can be life threatening.


Why Native American Tribes are receiving $590 million over opioids

The settlement was filed in a U.S. District Court in Cleveland. According to the settlement, which was offered in early February, 2022, Big Pharma company Johnson & Johnson, and the three biggest distribution companies in the US: AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson, would pay out a total of $590 million to members of all federally recognized tribes that take part in the settlement, including tribes that were not a party to suing these companies.

Why is this happening? Native American tribes claim these companies helped knowingly fuel the use of opioids, creating an epidemic in their specific communities. And judging from the payout that the companies are offering, it seems this might be completely true. This is a settlement, after all, not a court ruling. If these companies didn’t think they were in the wrong, they probably wouldn’t be offering up $590 million. So the offer of the settlement itself speaks volumes to what these companies actually did.

Technically, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson had made their own deal last September, agreeing to pay a total of $75 million to the Cherokee tribe. On the 1st of February, those same companies agreed to pay $440 million over a seven-year period to any Native American tribe member who wants to be a part of the settlement, so long as they come from a federally recognized tribe. What about Johnson & Johnson? That company agreed to pay $150 million over a two year period, with $18 million specifically earmarked for the Cherokee tribe.

According to the plaintiffs’ Tribal Leadership Committee, Native American communities have been particularly affected by the use of opioids, with higher rates per capital for overdoses than other racial groups. The group went on to say “The burden of paying these increased costs has diverted scarce funds from other needs and has imposed severe financial burdens on the tribal plaintiffs.”

Global settlements

This is in no way the first settlement that Big Pharma has had to pay out. All of these companies have already agreed to pay out a whopping $26 billion globally. At the time of this new settlement with the Native American community, Johnson & Johnson said that the $150 million it offered to pay out for the current settlement, would be deducted from what it owes to the global settlement amount.

Funny enough – and it really is – after agreeing to the $26 billion settlement, and this current one where the company will pay $150 million, Johnson & Johnson made this statement: “This settlement is not an admission of any liability or wrongdoing and the company will continue to defend against any litigation that the final agreement does not resolve.” Companies don’t usually pay such exorbitantly high sums of money if they think they haven’t done anything wrong. And especially not if they think they can win in court.

opioid settlement

This is probably a good time to remind, that a settlement isn’t a court ruling. It’s a deal made between parties to evade the need for a court ruling. Settlements are generally made when the defendant isn’t in a good position, and is afraid of the much higher sum/punishment that could be doled out should the case actually be voted on by a jury, or ruled on by a judge. Very few innocent parties will therefore agree to settlements, and certainly not in the billion dollar range if they actually think they’re innocent.

That Johnson & Johnson made such a mind-numbingly ridiculous statement, just goes to show how little responsibility these companies want to take for their actions, even in the midst of having to pay out massive sums for them. I kind of hope the plaintiffs in these cases don’t accept, and allow the cases to have a formal judgement. Of course, as Native American tribes must still approve this deal, there is still a chance of a last-minute change.

Even so, as said by Robins Kaplan attorney Tara Sutton, who helped represent the Native American tribes, “This initial settlement for tribes in the national opioid litigation is a crucial first step in delivering some measure of justice to the tribes and reservation communities across the United States that have been ground zero for the opioid epidemic.”

How bad is the opioid crises?

In 2019, there were somewhere between 50,000-71,000 overdose deaths by opiates. hhs.gov, which gave the bigger number of the year, broke it down like this: overall opioid overdose deaths were 70,630, heroin overdoses totaled 14,480, the number of people in the US who misused painkillers was 10.1 million, and the number of deaths from synthetic opioids was 48,000. If you’ll notice, deaths from synthetic opioids – AKA pharmaceutical opioids, was well over three times the death total of heroin.

Then in 2020, according to Marketwatch and data out of the CDC, opioid overdose deaths increased by 30% from the massive number they already were. In 2020, approximately 93,331 people died by way of opioid overdose. This was the sharpest increase in deaths in three decades. And what was fingered as the main culprit in all this? Well it sure wasn’t a street drug like heron. No, it was/is fentanyl.

What about 2021? Well, official statistics don’t seem to be out yet, but some information is. When looking at the 12 months ending in April of 2021, the US racked up over 100,000 drug overdoses, with 75,000 attributed to opioids. Weirdly, a variation of this was also announced by U.S. Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking, which claimed that this number was relevant to the year ending June 2021, with synthetic opioids making up nearly two out of three of those deaths. Either way, when the actual statistics for 2021 are released, they won’t be pretty.

Native American opioids

Some other fun facts highlighting how little this is being cared about, even by doctors. In 2017, over 191 million prescriptions for opioids were written, which equals a staggering 58.7 prescriptions written for every 100 people. 45% of these were given by primary care physicians, who are not supposed to be writing these prescriptions in the first place. How much does this cost the US in terms of health care, emergency care, treatment for addiction, lost productivity, and criminal justice issues? Well, the number given for 2017 was $78.5 billion a year. Which would be way higher by now. As all of these numbers would be, including prescriptions written by doctors.

Why is this an issue?

This problem exists, and is ongoing, for only one reason: the government allows it. And not only that, the government helped start it. What do I mean by this? I mean the governing body with the job of protecting its people by regulating the medical industry, allowed and promoted pharmaceutical companies to produce and distribute these medications, and for medical doctors to prescribe them at will. With the exception of the standard low number of heroin overdoses that were already occurring yearly, this issue exists because the government allowed it to. Period.

While the CDC likes to talk about three waves in this opioid epidemic, this seems like a distraction technique meant to shift the blame, or try to put it on a standard non-governmental illicit drug market. Heroin has been used for centuries without ever going out of range in terms of overdoses. The idea of this being an ‘epidemic’ didn’t becomes a thing until Big Pharma intervened in the 90’s with Oxycontin. That was the first wave. The CDC likes to say the second wave started around 2010 with an increase in heroin, with a third wave beginning in 2013 with the advent of drugs like fentanyl. Funny that it would go from pharma drugs to heroin to pharma drugs. Seems a little wobbly in the logic department at best. Which means, if the standard heroin use is taken out of the mix, this is entirely a pharma-oriented epidemic.

In fact, while other methods of pain relief exist that do not cause these problems, the government continuously ignores them in favor of promoting opioids and big pharma. Think cannabis, kratom, ketamine, and things like ginger, that most people will never be told about. I drink ginger tea every day and it can be the difference between being able to stand up straight and not. And that’s coming from someone who does ballet everyday. Which is actually a massive statement. Yet no doctor will tell a person to make ginger tea, over giving them a prescription for a drug they already know can kill them.

And want a weirder piece of info? Johnson & Johnson, one of the pharma companies to pay out the most, is also the only company to have an approved ketamine medication beyond use as an anesthetic, which is the drug esketamine. But it probably didn’t want its new drug to hurt its opioid sales, so it didn’t ask to have it approved for pain relief. After all, ketamine doesn’t get people addicted, and non-addicted people don’t need to keep buying meds.


It’s good that Big Pharma is starting to get hit hard for its awful decisions and treatment of Americans. And its nice to see Native American tribes get something back for the damage that was bestowed on them through opioids. But unless the government does its job, and stops the production of these drugs, there is no way this can stop.

opioid overdose

And on that note, it would be really nice to see the US government have to formally take responsibility for its awful decisions and treatment of its own people. That that hasn’t happened yet means all the stories coming out in rising death tolls will never mean anything. This problem only stops when the parties accountable – pharmaceutical companies that produce these medications, and governmental bodies which allow them, are stopped.

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DisclaimerHi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advice, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

The post Big Pharma To Pay Native American Tribes $590 Million Over Opioids appeared first on CBD Testers.

Jury Finds Pharmacy Chains Contributed to Ohio’s Opioid Crisis

A federal jury in Ohio on Tuesday found that pharmacy giants Walgreens, CVS and Walmart contributed to the opioid crisis in that state, a verdict that could serve as a bellwether for thousands of similar cases pending from coast to coast. The decision is the first verdict returned by a jury that holds a pharmacy retailer responsible for its role in the devastating epidemic of opioid overdoses that has plagued the United States for decades.

In the lawsuit, Lake and Trumbell Counties in northeastern Ohio maintained that the pharmacy retailers had recklessly distributed more than 100 million opioid pain pills in the counties, leading to addiction, death and a strain on public services. Between 2012 and 2016, more than 80 million prescriptions painkillers were dispensed in Trumbull County alone, or about 400 pills for every resident. During the same period, approximately 61 million opioid painkillers were dispensed in Lake County.

“For decades, pharmacy chains have watched as the pills flowing out of their doors cause harm and failed to take action as required by law,” a committee of attorneys representing local governments in federal opioid lawsuits said in a statement. “Instead, these companies responded by opening up more locations, flooding communities with pills, and facilitating the flow of opioids into an illegal, secondary market.”

Counties Say Pharmacies Created a Public Nuisance

Attorneys for the plaintiffs argued that the actions of the pharmacies amounted to a public nuisance that cost the counties about $1 billion each to address. Mark Lanier, an attorney representing the counties, said that the pharmacies failed to hire or train enough employees and implement systems to prevent suspicious orders from being filled.

“The law requires pharmacies to be diligent in dealing drugs,” Lanier said. “This case should be a wake-up call that failure will not be accepted.” 

“The jury sounded a bell that should be heard through all pharmacies in America,” he added.

The suit originally also named pharmacy retailers Rite-Aid and Giant Eagle as plaintiffs in the case. Rite-Aid settled in August and agreed to pay Trumbull County $1.5 million in damages, while a settlement amount with Lake County has not been released. Giant Eagle agreed to settle late last month, although terms of that agreement were not disclosed.

The case, which was decided by a 12-person jury after a six-week trial, was returned in one of about 3,000 federal opioid lawsuits being supervised by U.S. District Judge Dan Polster in Cleveland. Adam Zimmerman, who teaches mass litigation at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said that the verdict could prompt other pharmaceutical retailers to settle their pending cases.

“It’s the first opioid trial against these major household names,” Zimmerman told the New York Times. “They have been the least willing group of defendants to settle, so this verdict is at least a small sign to them that these cases won’t necessarily play out well in front of juries.”

Pharmacy Chains Will Appeal Verdict

All three retailers have indicated that they will appeal the jury’s verdict. Walmart said in a statement that the plaintiffs’ attorneys sued “in search of deep pockets while ignoring the real causes of the opioid crisis—such as pill mill doctors, illegal drugs, and regulators asleep at the switch—and they wrongly claimed pharmacists must second-guess doctors in a way the law never intended and many federal and state health regulators say interferes with the doctor-patient relationship.”

Walgreens spokesperson Fraser Engerman characterized the case as an unsustainable effort “to resolve the opioid crisis with an unprecedented expansion of public nuisance law,” adding that the company “never manufactured or marketed opioids nor did we distribute them to the ‘pill mills’ and internet pharmacies that fueled this crisis.”

“As plaintiffs’ own experts testified, many factors have contributed to the opioid abuse issue, and solving this problem will require involvement from all stakeholders in our health care system and all members of our community,” CVS spokesperson Mike DeAngelis said in a statement after the verdict was announced.

The retail pharmacies are not alone in their criticism of the verdict. Dr. Ryan Marino, an assistant professor of the Departments of Emergency Medicine and Psychiatry at Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, says that focusing on blaming the pharmaceutical industry, prescribers, and pharmacies ignores the role that bad policies have played in the opioid crisis.

“If retail pharmacies are declared responsible, I ask that we also hold policymakers responsible for their role in driving people to foreseeable death and failing to act to prevent disordered substance use or addiction by failing to provide access to safety in addition to basic things like housing, education, employment, and income, which are well known to prevent addiction in the first place,” Marino wrote in an email to High Times. “The same old approaches have not helped this problem, and in fact, seem to be only making it worse.”

Some drug manufacturers and distributors including Johnson & Johnson have also opted to settle cases brought against them for their alleged contributions to the opioid crisis, which has killed more than 500,000 Americans over the past twenty years. Kevin Roy, chief public policy officer at addiction solutions advocacy group Shatterproof, said that Tuesday’s verdict could prompt other pharmacies to consider a settlement.

“It’s a signal that the public, at least in select places, feels that there’s been exposure and needs to be remedied,” Roy said.

Roy noted, however, that the different courts hearing opioid cases have not been consistent in their judgments and that the details of public nuisance laws vary from state to state. Earlier this month, a California judge ruled in favor of drug manufacturers in a case brought by the city of Oakland and three counties. And in Oklahoma on November 9, the state Supreme Court overturned a 2019 verdict for $465 million against Johnson & Johnson.

“There’s been a variety of different decisions lately that should give us reason to be cautious about what this really means in the grand scheme,” Roy said.

Just how much Walgreens, CVS and Walmart will have to pay Trumbull and Lake Counties remains to be seen. The judge is expected to issue a decision on damages to be awarded in the case in the spring.

The post Jury Finds Pharmacy Chains Contributed to Ohio’s Opioid Crisis appeared first on High Times.

30% Death Increase! Is Cannabis the Answer to Massive Opioid Epidemic?

2020 wasn’t a good year for anyone but the companies operating during the pandemic. And this is now reflected in the massive increase in opioid use throughout the US. What was already a huge problem, is now skyrocketing out of control, thanks, in part to quarantine. Is cannabis the answer to this growing opioid epidemic?

There are tons of reasons to use cannabis, and one of them is for pain. In fact, cannabis could be the best answer for the massive, and growing, opioid epidemic in the US. Whether you’re interested in it as a pain remedy, for some other medical purpose, or just to feel good, the important thing is to get the right product. One of the best medical AND recreational options, is delta-8 THC. This alternate version of THC causes less anxiety, less couch locking, and slightly less psychoactive effect, which leaves the user with more energy. If this sounds good to you, check out our array of delta-8 THC deals, and pick your favorite product.

Where were we before this year?

Prior to 2020, and the start of corona and forced quarantine measures, there was already an opioid issue in the US, and not a small one. Different sources have different numbers, but despite discrepancies, the one clear fact, is that this is a massive problem. For example, whether you go with hhs.gov, which puts overdoses in 2019 at close to 71,000, or drugabuse.gov, which puts it at 50,000, a lot of Americans died that year because of these drugs. Since hhs.gov gives more statistics, we’ll use this site to get an idea of what we’re dealing with numbers-wise. In the year 2019, these things happened:

  • Opioid overdoses – 70,630
  • People who used heroin – 745,000
  • People who used heroin for the first time – 50,000
  • Heroin-related overdoses – 14,480
  • Misuse of prescription painkillers for 1st time – 1.6 million
  • Misuse of painkillers in general – 10.1 million
  • Synthetic opioid deaths – 48,000

And a few more facts:

cannabis an answer to opioid epidemic

In 2017, more than 191 opioid prescriptions were handed out. That means 58.7 prescriptions written for every 100 people. Primary care physicians – who were not supposed to be doling out opioid prescriptions as a first approach, were doing so at the rate of 45% of all prescriptions written. And the economic burden from all of the health care, emergency care, addiction treatment, lost productivity, and criminal justice response, costs approximately $78.5 billion a year. What a waste of money!

These numbers might not be completely accurate, but they tell a compelling story. For one thing, over 70,000 people dying in one year of overdoses is insane, considering how many of these people were prescribed the drugs they overdosed on. We are not dealing with a street drug issue, and this should be clear from the numbers. We’re dealing with a pharmaceutically funded, physician-pushed, crisis. The fact that heroin use paled in comparison to prescription painkiller use by such massive margins, is astonishing.

Furthermore, the idea that the term ‘misuse’ is used in the case of prescription drugs, with such large numbers attached, goes to show that the powers that be, want to put the onus of this, on the drug users themselves. This, despite that fact that the numbers show it can’t be expected that people will be able to use such drugs correctly. Probably because of their incredibly strong addictive properties. It is not for patients to determine if a drug is safe for how its prescribed. That’s for doctors. The information above shows that trained medical professionals often do not ask the right questions, do not understand what they’re working with, and do not know how to find information for themselves.

What happened in 2020?

2020 really wasn’t a good year for most people. A lot of jobs were lost, a lot of plans broken, a lot of life, completely stalled. And this involved forced quarantines whereby the population was made to stay at home, even as paychecks ran out, and the ability to put food on the table was diminished. People eschewed seeing friends and family, and even getting basic exercise, at the behest of the government.

While this is still a touchy subject for many, I would be remiss if I did not point out, that many of the same pharmaceutical companies profiting off the opioid epidemic, are the same ones pushing people to get corona vaccines. And the same doctors who could not think for themselves, and prescribed those opiates, are the same ones telling people they should get vaccinated. If ever there was a time to question something in life, this is that time.

But this article isn’t about corona vaccines, and that’s a different subject. For our current purposes, we want to see how the events of the past year affected opioid use. And the answer isn’t a pretty one. According to Marketwatch, and preliminary data from the CDC, opioid overdoses went up a full 30% in 2020, fueled mainly by stress and isolation. Whereas there is a discrepancy for numbers for 2019 – 50,000 and 70,000, the number for 2020, is 93,331, well above either estimate for 2019. This is the sharpest increase in three decades.

The main culprit? Not heroin, but fentanyl. One of the pharmaceutical versions to make it big. Fentanyl was already on the rise starting in 2019 – once again, probably because it’s a highly addictive drug that got prescribed by doctors not able to think for themselves – and picked up speed in March 2020 when lockdowns started. Not only is this an example of doctors unable to do their jobs properly, but of pharmaceutical greed, and the idea of ancillary damage. These deaths were not caused by the corona virus, but the reaction to it. These deaths can be put with those that will come from the increase in poverty, and lack of government resources.

prescription opioids

Treating pain

I think it would be massively insensitive, and fundamentally wrong, to say that cannabis can do exactly what opiates can, it cannot. Opiates are literally numbing, which is why they’re so good for pain. They attach to receptors in the body that block pain messages from getting to the brain, so you literally won’t feel the pain you’re actually meant to feel. On the other hand cannabis treats different kinds of pain in different ways. Cannabis treats physical pain (nociceptive), by reducing inflammation – since pain is a result of inflammation due to injury.

This happens by reducing inflammation, and blocking the inflammation pain signal to the brain. Cannabis also treats neuropathic pain – or damage to the nervous system. This pain is more difficult to treat since its not inflammation based, but results from damage to nerve cells. This can be done through activating serotonin receptors, or the activation of CB1 receptors. Cannabis can even treat difficult unclassified pain, like fibromyalgia, although admittedly, it is not well understood how.

The idea that we might need to experience a little pain in life, is uncomfortable, but realistic. However, we’ve gotten to the point where basic pain isn’t accepted anymore. Take childbirth, for example. No one used to have epidurals. Women gave birth for millennia without the use of drugs. Do you know any woman now who accepts the idea of childbirth without an epidural? It’s the same concept with other types of pain. Have a minor headache? Pop a Tylenol. Got a scratch? Take Ibuprofen. Twist your ankle a bit? Well surely you need something super heavy like opiates.

Cannabis as an answer to the opioid epidemic

Backing up that cannabis can be an answer to the opioid epidemic, this 2020 systematic review came out highlighting how cannabis use can reduce opioid dosages when used in tandem: Medical cannabis for the reduction of opioid dosage in the treatment of non-cancer chronic pain: a systematic review. The review shows an overall reduction in opioid use of 64-75%. These studies specifically did not deal with cancer-related pain, but do show that 32-59.3% of the non-cancer opioid users studied, were at least partially substituting opioid use with medical cannabis use to control their pain.

It is true that not a huge amount of research has been done on this topic, but other systematic reviews, like this one, also show positive results for cannabis use for pain: Cannabis and Pain: A Clinical Review. As more research is done, more specifics can be put out there for what kinds of pain exactly it can treat. What should be remembered, is that, even if it doesn’t numb pain quite as well as opiates, it also doesn’t come with a risk of death.

Perhaps our own training in dealing with pain is partly to blame. We have been groomed to not feel things, and opiates play into this. Cannabis can help with pain, but not in the same way. In a realistic and manageable way, yes. In a completely-numb-you-out-and-feel-nothing-way? No. And maybe that’s good. Maybe its better to take the edge off of something manageable, than to numb ourselves to the point of addiction. If cannabis had been used over opiates in all but the most extreme of cases, the country would be filled with stoners, not opiate addicts waiting to overdose.

cannabis answer opioid epidemic

Cannabis use for pain is seen both inside and outside of America. According to a Gallup poll from a few years ago, 40% of respondents specifically said they use CBD to treat their pain. Go across to Europe, and apparently 3/4 of the cannabis prescriptions written in Germany, are for pain.

How did this problem start?

In questioning whether cannabis is an answer to the opioid epidemic, perhaps we should ask, how did the whole problem start? Though the government is willing to give us plenty of information to back up a problem, what the government isn’t quite as loud about, is that it allowed this to happen. As in, the body meant to regulate and protect our country, allowed pharmaceutical companies to produce these medications, and for doctors to distribute them at will. This issue exists because the government allowed it to.

The CDC likes to try to break it down in a way that doesn’t put all the blame on government. The organization highlights three different waves of opioid deaths, starting in the 90’s. It started because of opioid prescriptions being given out at that time. Now, lets remember, heroin has been used for centuries, and there were plenty of junkies prior to pharmaceutical companies getting in on it in the 90s, yet somehow it wasn’t considered an epidemic until pharmaceutical companies intervened. That says an awful lot. The CDC claims the second wave came around 2010 with an increased use of heroin, and a third wave beginning in 2013 because of synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

Sounds like the CDC manufactured the second wave to try to make it seem like this wasn’t a pharmaceutical issue, when in reality, it makes very little sense for there to be a spike in heroin use, in between two waves of pharmaceutical opioid growth. In fact, I don’t see other publications making the same statement, and if they do mention any kind of rise in heroin overdoses, its related to poisonings, like cutting fentanyl with heroin, or because of not getting access to the pharmaceuticals. Which roundly puts this issue in the pharmaceutical/government court for blame. This is NOT a heroin issue, this is a pharmaceutical opioid issue.

How were so many doctors willing to ignore their training and prescribe these drugs? Excellent question. And while I can’t speak for what would allow a medical professional to be that bad at critical thinking, I will say that this should be remembered at times (like now) when drugs being put out by the same corporations, are being so heavily pushed by the same doctors who couldn’t establish in their own minds, that prescribing highly addictive drugs might cause a problem.

Cannabis an an answer to the opioid epidemic – Conclusion

No one ever said cannabis can do everything, and no one ever said it would take away all the pain a person has. But it can give a realistic alternative. So much so that the NFL wants CBD to treat the pain of its players. Maybe its not bad to experience a little pain in life. Maybe cannabis is a great answer to the opioid epidemic, so long as people are reasonable and realistic about what to expect. And maybe, just maybe, if people aren’t put on opiates as much in the future, we won’t have to continue having this discussion.

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DisclaimerHi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

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