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Patients With Legal Access To Medical Cannabis Less Likely To Use Prescription Drugs

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 21:14
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Patients with legal access to medical marijuana often reduce their use of conventional pharmaceuticals, according to a demographic review of patient characteristics published online in theJournal of Psychoactive Drugs.

Investigators surveyed responses from 367 state-qualified patients recruited from four medical cannabis dispensaries located throughout Arizona. The majority of respondents in the study were white males, and most patients (61 percent) reported consuming cannabis daily. The average age of respondents was 46 years old.

Patients reported using medical cannabis to treat a variety of conditions. The most commonly reported conditions were chronic pain, muscle spasms, nausea, anxiety, arthritis, depression, headaches, insomnia and stress. Patients also reported that cannabis was highly effective for treating the symptoms of many of these conditions—a finding that is consistent with prior studies of medical marijuana patients.

Over 90 percent of patients who reported consuming cannabis to mitigate nausea (95 percent), headache (94 percent), muscle spasms (91 percent) and chronic pain (90 percent) also reported that they were able to reduce their use of prescription medications. Over 80 percent of those with anxiety (86 percent), insomnia (82 percent) and arthritis (81 percent) acknowledged using pharmaceutical drugs less frequently after qualifying for cannabis therapy.

Previously published data from medical marijuana patients in other regions, including California,Canada and Rhode Island, have reported a similar substitution effect, particularly among patients taking prescription opioids.

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