A new University of British Columbia and University of Victoria study suggests that patients in Canada are using medical cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs, particularly opioids.
In the study, published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, 63 percent of patients self-reported that they were using cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs, with 30 percent of those indicating they were using cannabis in lieu of opioid-based pharmaceuticals. Sixteen percent reported their cannabis use was a substitute for benzodiazepines – often prescribed to treat anxiety – and 12 percent reported using cannabis as a substitute for anti-depressants.
Additionally, some of the 250 patients enrolled in the study reported using cannabis as a substitute for alcohol (25 percent), tobacco (12 percent), and illicit drugs (3 percent).
Zach Walsh, a co-author of the study and UCB associate professor, said while the study might show cannabis may have a role in addressing opioid addiction, more research is required.
“Further research into how well cannabis works compared to the accepted front-line treatments is warranted,” Walsh said in a Global News report. “Additionally, long-term research into the potential impact of the cannabis substitution on the quality of patients’ lives is ongoing.”
The study was funded by Tilray, a Canadian licensed medical cannabis and research firm.