What the World Needs Now Is not a Drug for Marijuana Withdrawal

But the people who want to sell that drug to you? They need it.

Current researchers operating out of Boston’s McLean Hospital are running targeted online ads seeking participants in a study of “an investigational medication aimed at reducing marijuana use.”

Potential human lab rats must smoke marijuana regularly, be between 18 to 45 years old, in good physical and mental health, and willing to subject to an MRI. If chosen, candidates for this pharmaceutical product testing stand to be paid $955, perhaps with the added bonus of a chemically-assisted tolerance break.

Screenshot via Craigslist

Up until very recently, marijuana withdrawal was not considered to be a medical problem—or a potential revenue source—at all. Over several decades of widespread marijuana use and cessation of use in the United States, the symptoms of marijuana deprivation have been so subtle that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) didn’t even identify cannabis withdrawal as a medical term until the fifth version of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) came out in 2013.

In other words, the APA hopped on the marijuana-treatment gravy train about three years ago, diagnosing a weed breakup as a condition necessitating medical intervention. To be fair, U.S. psychiatrists are not alone in diagnosing pot withdrawal as a means of fattening revenue streams. The hustle has gone intercontinental.

In Australia, the University of Sydney conducted a study of a weed withdrawal spray called Sativex, a marijuana-based compound that is currently approved—in Australia—for treating multiple sclerosis.

From the Sydney Morning Herald

Sativex works to control withdrawal symptoms in much the same way as nicotine patches for smokers and methadone for heroine addicts. The spray contains extracts from cannabis sativa plants grown under controlled conditions. These extracts don't have intoxicating effects and research shows they have powerful anti-anxiety, antidepressant and antipsychotic properties.

The University of Sydney study found that pot-smoking “dads” were a likely market for expanding sales of Sativex. Nick Lintzeris, an addiction specialist at the school and the study’s lead investigator, revealed that 17 of the 20 users who had signed up to participate in the study were men in their 30s and 40s, well-educated, and employed full time. Professor Lintzeris surmises that, unlike the “usual suspect” kids who have been busted for weed and need to test clean to remain off the child services' shit list, his test subjects “cite their family as being the main driver behind their decision to stop using cannabis."

The Sativex, theoretically, will aid those dads in getting over the bumpy withdrawal period of symptoms, which the APA itemizes as:

• Irritability
• Anger
• Nervousness
• Sleep difficulty
• Decreased appetite
• Restlessness
• Depressed mood

In other words, the exact same symptoms as being a parent.

Without answering it or even asking it, the Australian study raises an important question: Isn't giving fathers a medication that contains cannabis to relieve the symptoms of being a parent fundamentally the same as medicating with cannabis to relieve those symptoms?

Image via GWPharma

The Australian study, even with its anti-weed bias, is a study in the efficacy of marijuana as medicine. The researchers, while ostensibly engaged in finding a cure for marijuana use, state outright that cannabis extracts "have powerful anti-anxiety, antidepressant and antipsychotic properties."

Perhaps a world plagued by maladies linked to anxiety, depression, and psychosis would be better served by researchers who focused on harnessing the marijuana plant's (apparently) demonstrated power in combating these conditions, rather than cooking up a weed-withdrawal revenue pipeline.