There’s a reward out there for anyone brainy enough to develop a drug that will stymie pot addiction, and it comes from Uncle Sam. The federal government is dedicating $3 million for the fast-track creation of a miracle pill that will keep kids off the weed. Or adults. Or geriatrics. Or whoever smokes the stuff.
Race for a Drug
For anyone following the White House’s relationship with pot, this may come as a surprise. While the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Drug Abuse want to curb pot use, the Obama administration is trying to cut down on penalties for toking, and it recently made it far easier for scientists and researchers to study the effects of marijuana. On top of that, Mr. President told the New Yorker last year that he didn’t think pot was any more dangerous than alcohol.
(Of course, alcohol can be pretty dangerous when you drink two or more servings in 30 minutes, but that’s another conversation.)
Despite Obama’s liberal stance on weed, the NIH and NIDA are going after pot addiction with gusto. There are three front-runners in the race for a drug and they’ve all received funds from the Fast Track Developments of Medication to Treat Cannabis Use Disorders grant.
But is it a good idea to treat substance abuse with another substance? Shouldn’t we learn something from Suboxone and methadone? And is weed even addictive to begin with?
An Incredible Waste?
Whether or not pot addiction is an actual problem depends on who you talk to. NIDA definitely thinks so, estimating that nine percent of pot smokers become physically and mentally dependent on the herb. According to their stats, the number goes up with teens to 17% and their data also concludes that maryjane is responsible for more than half of dependencies on illicit drugs in America.
Of course, both pot advocates and reasonable minds argue that a nine percent rate of dependency in the entire toking demographic is extremely low—lower than alcohol, coke, heroin and certainly cigarettes. Never mind that pot overdoses kill…well…absolutely no one.
With this in mind, lots of folks think the grant is incredibly wasteful and, worse yet, that it’s another way to pump money into Big Pharma. Whatever company creates the state-sanctioned anti-weed drug will get a major prize—mega millions, if not billions, in profits.
Lesser of Two Evils
Of course, there’s also the problem of trading one drug for another. This is not a new concept—for years people have been trying to wean off heroin with methadone or Suboxone, or alcohol with things like Antabuse or Campral. Many think it’s ludicrous to have to use a drug to combat the effects of another drug, but this boils down to which is the lesser of two evils and each problem pothead should make that choice for themselves.
Whether or not coming up with a drug to cure pot addiction is worth the $3 million is a question with no straight answer. Studies on the dangers of pot and the possible consequences of legalizing it in the US don’t really help. Some researchers say unlimited access to weed will mean more pot addiction, especially among youth; others, citing the example of other countries, argue that legalization only helps to lower drug addiction.
It’s obviously a grey area. But for someone who’s got a serious addiction to weed and can’t leave the house (or their video games or double-cheese pizza), if a drug can help them get back into the swing of things…hey, why not?
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