Evidence that cannabis can function as a substitute for prescription drugs, particularly opioids seems to be growing, with more research being conducted.
Two studies presented at the 2022 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) earlier this year showed that providing patients with chronic back pain and osteoarthritis (OA) access to medical cannabis can reduce or even eliminate the use of opioids for pain management.
Moreover, a recent analysis by a Cornell research team revealed that people afflicted with anxiety, sleep, pain or seizures who also have access to legal recreational cannabis can and do reduce their use of prescription drugs.
Now, a new survey conducted by a team of Canadian and U.S. researchers revealed that nearly half of 2,697 Canadian patients with access to medical marijuana said they are substituting cannabis for other controlled substances.
According to data published in the Journal of Cannabis Research, half of those who acknowledged they use cannabis in place of prescription drugs said they are doing so for opioids, while the number of those using marijuana to minimize their alcohol intake is not small either.
Interestingly the survey also showed that nearly one-third of respondents did not tell their primary care providers that they are substituting prescription drugs with cannabis.
“Results suggest that patients often substitute cannabis for other medications without PCP guidance,” the authors concluded. “The lack of integration between mainstream healthcare and medical cannabis could likely be improved through increased physician education and clinical experience.”
The researchers also emphasized that “future studies should investigate strategies for effectively involving PCPs in patient care around medical cannabis with a specific focus on substitution and harm reduction practices.”
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