How Many Prescriptions Are Replaced by Cannabis? Canada Study Explores an Answer

In the US, we’ve seen a marked drop in opioid overdoses in legal states, prodding the question of whether patients are replacing their prescription medicines with cannabis. Recent survey data collected from patients enrolled in Canada’s MMPR program indicates this may be more than just a correlation.

Led by researchers Philippe Lucas and Zach Walsh, this investigationsurveyed 271 patients purchasing medical cannabis from Canadian LP Tilray (which, like Leafly, is owned by Privateer Holdings). Seeking to understand who is using medical marijuana and why, they discovered some staggering statistics pertaining to substitution–63% of respondents reported using cannabis in place of prescription medications.
Breaking down the results by drug classes, Lucas and Walsh found that:
  • 30% of respondents replaced opioids with cannabis
  • 16% replaced benzodiazepines
  • 12% replaced antidepressants
The reason? “Less adverse side effects,” said 39% of patients. Others responded that cannabis was safer (27%) and more effective in treating symptoms (16%).
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