Under existing guidelines of the College of Physicians & Surgeons, before a Saskatchewan doctor can prescribe cannabis to a patient to help control pain or treat symptoms like nausea, insomnia and lack of appetite associated with a number of different diseases they must have tried three other types of treatment using conventional prescription drugs.

This drives advocates of using cannabis for medicinal purposes crazy because often these drugs are highly addictive and generally exact a pretty heavy toll on a patient’s physical and mental well-being. One of the worst of these drugs is OxyContin (pictured above). It’s an opioid that’s twice as strong as morphine. Not only are people who are being prescribed the drug for short-term pain becoming addicted to it, the drug is also trafficked on the street. When the pills are crushed and then inhaled or injected they’re said to produce a heroin-like high.

Now, Purdue Pharma Canada, the company that manufactures OxyContin, is planning to replace the drug with a new formulation called OxyNEO that is more difficult to abuse. The changeover will occur at the end of February, and according to this CBC article, First Nations leaders are warning that with thousands of people in their communities addicted to OxyContin, the switch will cause a health crisis as people suffer withdrawal.