Attorney George F. Indest III Headshot By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Recently, a growing number of patients and doctors have claimed that medical marijuana may help treat addiction to painkillers and heroin. These claims have intrigued lawmakers and advocates who are pushing for marijuana as a treatment for the abuse of opioids and narcotics like heroin, as well as an alternative to painkillers.

One Problem: Very Little Supporting Research.

As there has been a growing problem with addiction to painkillers and heroin, this seems like a promising treatment. There is one problem however.  There is very little research showing that marijuana works effectively as a treatment for the addiction.

According to advocates, a growing amount of scientific literature supports the idea and a study in the Journal of Pain published in 2016, found that chronic pain sufferers significantly reduced their opioid use when taking medical marijuana.

The supporting research also falls short of concluding marijuana actually helps wean people off painkillers and illegal narcotics like heroin. Many health care professionals say it’s not enough for them to confidently prescribe marijuana as a treatment for addiction.

Is Marijuana a Safe Alternative?

Even though some patients and doctors have claimed the treatment is successful, not everyone is convinced. Cannabis could have limited benefits as a treatment alternative, said Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Kevin Hill, authored the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) study that found benefits in using medical marijuana to treat chronic pain. But he also urged caution.

“If you are thinking about using cannabis as opposed to using opioids for chronic pain, then I do think the evidence does support it,” he said. “However, I think one place where sometimes cannabis advocates go too far is when they talk about using cannabis to treat opioid addiction.”

Additionally, some substance abuse experts argue that there are already approved medications to treat addiction. They also claim that it would be wrong to portray marijuana as completely safe because it can also be addictive.

To read one of my prior blogs on medical marijuana and the list of recommended uses, click here.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at


Casey, Michael. “Could Marijuana Help Treat Painkiller and Heroin Addiction?” Associated Press. (April 26,2016). Web.

“Could Marijuana Help Treat Painkiller and Heroin Addiction?” CBS News. (April 26, 2016). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

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