The treatment of opioid withdrawal has joined the state Health Department’s list of approved uses for medical marijuana.
Its potential as a tool in weaning addicts from drug addiction was explored during a public forum at the East Stroudsburg University Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
“There’s an evolving body of evidence that would suggest that you can heal the brain using cannabis.” Dr. Bruce Nicholson, director of the division of pain management at Lehigh Valley Health Network, told the audience. “Rewire those circuits altering that desire as far as changing the neurochemistry of the brain, and reduce the likelihood of recidivism,”
Panelist and cannabis expert Ry Prichard said he’s witnessed its therapeutic powers.
“What I’ve found in the cannabis industry is people who have been regular users of cannabis have always found healing benefits for it, whether or not they were using it recreationally,” he said. “People have been familiar with the healing powers of this plant for thousands of years. When people don’t have the education to know about the natural alternative they won’t take it.
“We are the leading pill swallowing country in the world,” said Prichard, who co-hosts Viceland’s “Bong Appetite,” TV’s first show on cooking with cannabis.
Prichard said depression, anxiety and other chemical imbalances are actually a result of endocannabinoid deficiencies.
“Not only is it a way to treat pain but restore balance in people’s lives,” he said.
State Sen. Michael Folmer, the Lebanon County Republican who sponsored Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana law, also spoke at the forum.
“I came across a 2015 study by Dr. Colleen Barry of Johns Hopkin’s who discovered that in states that were using cannabis as an alternative to long term pain management, that their prescription drug overdoses dropped by 25 percent in the first year and continued in subsequent years,” Folmer said.
According to Folmer, California,