University to study medical cannabis as opioid alternative

On the same day that President Donald Trump labeled opioid-related deaths a “national health emergency,” word spread that the University of Florida Health will study the medical benefits of cannabis as a possible alternative to the narcotic.

The school’s doctors will also study MMJ’s benefits for HIV patients.

The five-year study is being funded by a $3.2 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, according to Gainesville TV station WUFT.

One reason for the study, said lead researcher Dr. Robert Cook, is to determine if medical cannabis can be a viable alternative for HIV patients and others who may be prescribed opioid painkillers.

Patients who partake in the study must provide their own cannabis, and the study will focus on both the pros and cons of MMJ effects, Cook told WUFT. The study will involve only patients in Florida.

Many existing patients in several states with functional medical cannabis markets use cannabis to wean themselves off much harder narcotics, and marijuana has become increasingly seen by many in the MMJ industry as an off-ramp drug as opposed to a gateway drug.