Is Cannabis an Exit or Entry Drug?

Playing The History of Cannabis: From Illegal to Medicinal

Cannabis and products containing cannabis seem to be everywhere, especially in states like California and Colorado, and The Doctors and Senior Investigative Reporter Leslie Marcus discuss if the proliferation of marijuana leads to more or less use of other drugs? We welcome cannabis specialist Dr. Sherry Yafai and addiction specialist Ken Seeley to examine.

For many years, cannabis has been labeled as an “entry drug” but could it actually be an “exit drug”?

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“We’re using cannabis now to get people away from harder medications like narcotics and alcohol,” Dr. Yafai explains, saying the goal is to wean patients off other narcotics with cannabis and then eventually off cannabis as well. She feels it can successfully be used to treat pain and also to ease withdrawal symptoms associated with narcotic use. She stresses this should only be done with the care of a physician and says it can be “very successful.”

The Doctors note this treatment approach is still experimental and controversial to some, including Ken who does not feel cannabis is an appropriate exit drug.

He questions why cannabis is being touted as a medication but is not approved by the FDA. He also says in his experience, over 80 percent of people he’s encountered in recovery began using drugs with cannabis. He questions why if it is a gateway drug for so many people, why would it be used to stop using other drugs. “It doesn’t make sense to me,” he says.

Watch: How to Be a Safe Cannabis User

Ken acknowledge cannabis can be used successfully in some cases to treat pain but feels there needs to be more research and more information about the criteria necessary to be given the cannabis and what dose should be administered. 

To ensure you are getting legal cannabis from a licensed dispensary Leslie suggests asking the dispensary to see their license and also consulting one of the many online resources to check if the location you are purchasing from is up to date on their license.

Watch: Is Cannabis an Exit Drug?

Dr. Travis says he hopes more doctors who are cannabis experts take part in helping with further trials and research, especially surrounding things like proper dosage and what types of health issues could be best treated with cannabis.


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