It has always been considered that marijuana (weed) is the gateway drug to harder drugs such as cocaine and heroin. However, views are changing. Due to the increase in opioid epidemics across the US and Canada, the use of medical marijuana is being considered to help wean opioid addicts off their addictions and as a potential pain relief alternative altogether.
Opioids are legal drugs such as codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone etc that people use for pain relief and other ailments but are highly addictive and can be dangerous when overused. Canada saw an increase in apparent opioid deaths between January and September 2017 which was higher than all apparent deaths in 2016. Studies in America that relate to their use of cannabis to help with opioid addiction problems has brought the debate back to Canada.
A statistic shows that state, where medical cannabis use is allowed, had 2.21 million less daily doses of opioid drugs/medication per year.
Recent studies (JAMA Internal Medicine Journal) support the theory, as individual states in the US found a coloration between the reduction in opiate prescriptions when cannabis was legalized in those states. This reduction would decrease the potential opioid usage and as a result lower the potential for opioid deaths.
In addition to the previous study, the International Journal of Drug Policy found in 2017 that patients using medical cannabis was a successful substitute for modern medicines including opioids. This evidence makes it clear that the introduction of legalized marijuana/cannabis will have a positive effect on those dealing with acute pain, illness and addiction problems.
While its true that all drug use and abuse share the same pathways. Unlike opioids, cannabis has little addiction potential and so far, there is no record of anyone dying from a cannabis overdose, which is something almost impossible as you must consumer over 400 times your own body weight of cannabis to be able to overdose.