Marijuana Component May Help Treat Heroin Addiction
by Bruce Mirken
The Journal of Neuroscience just published a new study that is particularly interesting in light of recent reports that marijuana may effectively substitute for abuse of more dangerous drugs.
In the new study, rats were taught to self-administer heroin and conditioned to associate that behavior with a light that flashed on above the lever that dispensed the heroin. At various stages in the procedure, some of the rats were treated with cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabinoid that doesn’t make you high, but which has a number of really interesting properties.
CBD didn’t have any effect when given to the rats who were actively dosing themselves with heroin, but it had a marked effect on rats who had been abstinent from heroin for two weeks. These rats-in-recovery were again shown the cue light, and those who hadn’t been given CBD immediately resumed pushing the heroin lever, seeking a dose of the drug. But in the CBD rats, this heroin-seeking behavior was markedly reduced – and the effect continued for a full two weeks after the last CBD treatment.
The researchers conclude, “CBD may be a potential treatment for heroin craving and relapse.” It might also imply that high-CBD strains of marijuana could be preferable for those who are trying to stay off of other drugs.
Ah, but how do you know if the marijuana you’re buying is high in CBD (which is probably not the case most of the time)? Well, if it were a legal, regulated product, marijuana could be labeled for cannabinoid content – just like that bottle of wine now tells you, “alcohol 13.8%” or whatever. What a concept.