Homeless Women Who Take Medical Cannabis Less Likely to Use “Street Drugs”


Can you imagine a world in which a single plant can help addicted homeless women steer clear of hard drugs? Guess what? We’re living in it.

The plant is medical cannabis, and according to a new study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, it is helping keep homeless women away from lethal hard drugs such as crack, cocaine, crystal, speed, crank, glass, and ice.

The authors wrote that they are well aware of the many studies citing the reductions in opioid use where medical marijuana is legal. This study’s goal was to gauge how cannabis use impacted the use of illicit stimulants.

A Look at the Methodology & Results

The researchers looked at data from a representative sample of women in a SHADOW (Shelter, Health, and Drug Outcomes Among Women) analysis. From 2008 to 2010, SHADOW studied a group of unstably housed women aged 18 or older.

The investigators recruited 245 women enrolled in programs that served them free meals and temporarily housed them in homeless shelters and single-room hotels.  

Eighteen months after a first baseline survey, the authors interviewed the participants to evaluate the effects of using physician-prescribed cannabis. The researchers paid the subjects $15 U.S. dollars for each University of California approved study interview.

With Medical Cannabis, Unstably Housed Women Are Using Less Hard Drugs

Researchers found that medical cannabis-using women reduced hard-illegal drug use. Recreational marijuana users used more hard illegal drugs, like crack, cocaine, crank, and ice.

[T]hese results corroborate study hypotheses and are consistent with prior research showing that medical cannabis use is associated with lower levels of non-cannabis drug use among housed U.S. adults living in states with medical cannabis laws from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health to assess nonmedical use of prescription opioids (SAMSHA, 2013).

The researchers found that it’s not just cannabis that may be the key to help to treat these women — but rather medically-prescribed pot.

Here’s Why Medical Cannabis Laws the Key to a Brighter Future

Fortunately, the ongoing medical cannabis breakthrough is affecting individuals across all socio-economic demographics. In places where medical marijuana is legal, studies are showing a decrease in non-medical pot use by adolescents. And other studies also suggest a reduction in teen cigarette smoking and other hard drugs in places where medical cannabis is legal.

Despite the historical stigma of weed, and to many people’s surprise, we increasingly see that there’s no link between legal medical marijuana and more cannabis consumption among minors.

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