Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform

Editor: Douglas A. Berman
Moritz College of Law

Thursday, March 9, 2017

"Can this man successfully treat opioid addiction with marijuana?"

The title of this post comes from this article from The Guardian discussing a controversial new addiction treatment facility that "uses cannabis as a a central part of its treatment plan." It begins:

When Joe Schrank got the call six years ago that his friend Greg Giraldo had been found unconscious after an overdose in a New Jersey hotel room, he was not surprised. Giraldo, a comedian, had cycled through the addiction loop for years, and Schrank had tried in vain to save him.

 

“Greg’s death really rattled me to the core,” says Schrank, a trained social worker who works with addicts. “He tried the abstinence route and it never really took root. I felt like rehab had failed him. It failed his family. It failed me. I kept thinking he could be smoking pot instead of dead. And that’s a big difference.”

 

Using pot instead of cocaine and Valium was something Schrank had suggested to his friend weeks before his death. Although it is an unpopular idea in the rehab world, where Schrank had made his career (first at the Malibu detox center Promises, then as head of a clean house in Brooklyn and founder of the The Fix, a website dedicated to addiction recovery), he nonetheless had a hunch marijuana could have helped his friend.

 

“There’s no lethal dose,” says Schrank who has collaborated with the addiction psychiatrist Scott Bienenfeld for the past decade on cases Bienenfeld oversees medically.

 

Indeed, page through the National Academy of Sciences’ latest 395-page report of 10,000 scientific abstracts on the health effects of cannabis, and you’d be pressed to find a single mention of death by marijuana overdose in adults. Yet because of its longtime classification as a Schedule 1 drug (right up there with heroin), research on marijuana’s impact on our health remains limited and largely inconclusive.

 

After Giraldo’s death, Schrank began working with Bienenfeld on treatment plans that incorporated marijuana as a crucial detox step. He also connected with Amanda Reiman, former head of marijuana law and policy at the  Drug Policy Alliance, whose research at University of California, Berkeley, for more than a decade has focused on the use of cannabis as a viable substitute for prescription drugs.

 

This January, Schrank took another step and opened High Sobriety – a first-of-its-kind rehab center that uses cannabis as a central part of its treatment plan. Seen as a highly contentious move in the rehab world, High Sobriety has been met with skepticism and criticism for its use of marijuana in a field where success is traditionally measured by total abstinence.

Some prior related posts:

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/marijuana_law/2017/03/can-this-man-successfully-treat-opioid-addiction-with-marijuana.html

Medical Marijuana Data and Research | Permalink

Comments

Post a comment