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Another Study Confirms that Cannabis Can Replace Other Drugs

by Mia

The time to debate whether more medical cannabis research is necessary has long since passed. With more than three-dozen states giving medical cannabis a green light, millions of people around the country now use it. And with greater frequency, patients are turning to medical cannabis to replace other drugs.

A recent study out of Canada confirms what previous studies have already revealed: cannabis is an effective replacement for opioids, at least for some patients. But the study goes further. It reveals that regular medical cannabis consumers have reduced their consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and other substances – in addition to cannabinoids.

If for no other reason, it is time to make medical cannabis federally legal. We have been scratching our heads for years trying to figure out how to bring an into the opioid crisis. The answer is right in front of us. If medical cannabis users are voluntarily reducing opioid consumption, they are proving that the opioid crisis can be stopped.

What the Study Revealed

The research team, consisting of experts from around the world, surveyed nearly 2,700 legally registered medical cannabis users in Canada. The mean age among participants was 54.3 while the division between male and female was just about even.

Data from the surveys reveals the following:

  • 54% of those using prescription opioids reduced their consumption over the previous year.
  • Some 30% of those using other prescription medications also decreased consumption.
  • 38% of those using alcohol reported drinking less over the previous year.
  • Roughly 25% of the tobacco users reduced their consumption.

Across the board, survey respondents indicated reducing their use of substances deemed equally harmful or more harmful than cannabis itself. Why would any lawmaker or regulator not want to learn more about medical cannabis and its potential to reduce a person’s consumption of more harmful substances?

It Can Be Managed

There are fears that federal legalization could unleash a medical cannabis wild west. Those fears are both unfounded and unrealistic. If nothing else, states legalizing medical cannabis over the last two decades have demonstrated that it can be managed.

Utah offers the perfect example of a well-managed medical cannabis market. According to the operators of St. George Pharmacy, Zion Medicinal, Utah regulations are straightforward and easy to understand. Everything from production to processing to distribution is controlled in a minimally intrusive way. As a result, Utah’s market is flourishing without the same chaos seen in other states.

Washington Has Two Options

If federal law is ever to be brought in harmony with state laws, Congress needs to act. Federal lawmakers really have only two options: reschedule marijuana or remove it from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) altogether. The former seems like the more reasonable option at this time.

Rescheduling marijuana to Schedule III would allow it to be regulated like any other prescription medication. Rescheduling would open the door to a ton of research thanks to easier access. It would also give the FDA the authority to regulate cannabis medications. But that’s not all.

Doctors could write prescriptions and insurance companies could cover them. Patients could begin receiving explicit instructions on how to use medical cannabis rather than the current system which forces them to self-medicate.

This latest study verifies assertions made by countless other studies. With greater frequency, research data is proving that medical cannabis consumption motivates patients to consume fewer opioids and less tobacco, alcohol, and other substances. Given what we know about the relative harm associated with cannabis, it is time to remove the shackles and start developing a full line of cannabis medicines.

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