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Marijuana could be an ‘exit’ drug: research

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VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – For decades, the messaging around pot has focused on its perceived threat as a “gateway drug.”

But now, new local research suggests it could be closer to the opposite. Researchers call it the “cannabis substitution effect.”

A new study suggests people could use marijuana as a substitute for stronger substances.

“Most research suggests that it’s safer and less addictive than many substances, particularly prescription opiates,” says Philippe Lucas with the University of Victoria’s Centre for Addictions Research of BC (CARBC).

The joint study from UBC and University of Victoria researchers found people under 40 were much more likely to sub in pot for other drugs than people over that age.

Overall, 87 per cent of the 400 people monitored over two years reported using pot over alcohol, illicit drugs or prescription pills.

Some researchers feel that points to pot’s ability as a harm-reduction drug, steering people away from things like heroin leading to the term “exit drug.”

Findings from Australia’s 2001 National Drug Strategy Household Survey specifically identify the cannabis substitution effect, indicating more than 50 per cent of heroin users substituted pot when their drug of choice was unavailable.

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