Since cannabis was legalized for medicinal and recreational purposes in the US, there has been a significant drop in opioid prescriptions and overdoses in legalized states. Researchers in Canada surveyed participants of their medical marijuana program to see if the same trend could be seen there.
The results: 63% of respondents said they use cannabis instead of certain prescription medications. Of the medications being substituted, nearly half were for opioids and benzodiazepines. Another 12% were substituting antidepressants.
Another welcome, yet unexpected, finding of the study showed that people are using legal cannabis to curb substance abuse. A quarter of respondents use cannabis instead of alcohol, and 15% use marijuana instead of tobacco and/or illicit drugs.
The reasons people are substituting?
- Fewer (if any) side effects compared to prescription medication (39%)
- Consider cannabis to be a safer alternative (27%)
- More effective than prescription medication (16%)
Only 3% of respondents reported using marijuana recreationally after starting it for medicinal purposes – a number that is significantly lower than that of opioid and benzodiazepine use.