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HOT TOPICS: Drug and Alcohol Treatment  Heroin

Is Marijuana Compound the "Gateway" to Kicking Coke?

Addicted mice suggest salvation for cocaine addicts could lie within an active ingredient of marijuana.

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High on life, thanks to CBD Photo via

By Rob Cummins

08/01/11

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No anti-craving meds are yet available for cocaine addicts, but a recent study found that the activation of a receptor in the brain known as CB2 can decrease usage of intravenous cocaine by 50-60% in addicted laboratory mice. Interestingly, the chemical responsible for this activation was a version of cannabidiol (CBD)—believed to be the second most active compound in marijuana, after the better-known THC. Scientists surmise that purified CBD, or a synthetic version—the snappily-titled "JWH133"—could aid those wishing to quit coke. JWH133 has other properties that could make it more acceptable, medically and politically: It's not known to cause a high or a negative experience, and dependence is an unlikely outcome (as opposed to other synthetic anti-craving or maintenance drugs like Methadone). It's possible that addicts beat scientists to the punch on this one: While crack cocaine use declined in the early ‘90s, marijuana use increased. Anecdotal evidence suggests a correlation between the two—with crack users turning to pot for a mellower, cheaper high—which might be linked to the possible hidden anti-coke-craving property within cannabis. Discoveries like these, while highly promising, take time to develop. But if CBD/JWH133 are confirmed to help people to give up cocaine/crack, it will be time for the politicians to move, as well as the scientists.

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