Top Federal Official: Safe Consumption Sites Save Lives, More Cannabis & Psychedelics Research Needed

Safe consumption sites have proven useful in saving patients from overdosing, a top federal drug official said.

“Yes, it’s preventing people from dying,” National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Director Nora Volkow, said at the recent STAT Summit, reported Marijuana Moment. “We need to look at it as a solution in context.”

Interestingly, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) filed a pair of requests for applications (RFAs) almost a year ago to provide funding to research the efficacy of a variety of harm reduction policies, including decriminalization and safe consumption sites.

Volkow, also a psychiatrist, stressed that clinics providing the service have reported success and zero overdose deaths, even when it comes to opioids such as fentanyl.

More importantly, White House drug czar, Dr. Rahul Gupta, who earlier signaled the possibility of safe injection sites, said in June that the Biden administration would prioritize “harm reduction” as a response to drug abuse while examining information on marijuana legalization and sites where people could use illicit drugs in a medically supervised environment.

Meanwhile, drug overdoses in the United States have soared over the last two decades, with deaths increasing over four times in the period between 1999 and 2017, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). New York City became the first in the nation to open two overdose prevention centers (OPC) last year.

More Research Into Psychedelics & Cannabis, Please

During her conference appearance, Volkow touched on the issue of psychedelic medicine, saying that more research is needed.

“It is urgent and imperative that we do research with the psychedelic drugs so that we can understand, first of all, what may be the molecular mechanisms of action,” she said. “If we can understand the active ingredients in the molecules of psychedelics, we may be able to get an insight about what may be therapeutic benefits and optimize them.”

Volkow had previously called for more “urgent” research into potential health risks and benefits of cannabis use among young adults.

Even though “there’s no evidence to my knowledge that occasional [adult] marijuana use has harmful effects,” she is “absolutely” worried about increased rates of marijuana use and that frequent (daily) consumption, in the long run, can produce “harmful effects even on the adult brain.”

Photo: Courtesy of Diana Polekhina on Unsplash

Posted In: CannabisNewsPsychedelicsHealth CarePoliticsMarketsGeneralBidendrugMarijuana MomentNora VolkowRahul GuptaSafe consumption Sites

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