Drug policy around the world is focused on preventing people from becoming drug dependent. But given that some people do become drug dependent, what can we do to help them? Over the years many ideas for effectively beating drug dependency have come forward, from the obscure drug ibogaine to firing lasers into the brain. One simple idea is slowly gaining currency: cannabis as a substitute drug for other substances considered more harmful.
In 2012 a research team surveyed the customers of four medical marijuana dispensaries in British Columbia, Canada. Three quarters of them said they substitute cannabis for at least one other substance. 41% of them substitute it for alcohol, 36% for illicit substances and 68% for prescription drugs. The three main reasons people gave were less withdrawal, fewer side-effects and better symptom management.
A 2006 study by the New York State Psychiatric Institute found that cannabis users were more successful than other patients in absta