Adults who purchase retail cannabis typically report using it to mitigate pain and to improve sleep, and often use it in place of conventional medications, according to data published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.
A team of investigators from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York and the University of Miami assessed marijuana use trends among 1,000 adult use customers in Colorado. Seventy-four percent of those surveyed said that they consumed cannabis to promote sleep, while 65 percent reported using cannabis to alleviate pain. Among those respondents with a history of taking prescription sleep aids, 83 percent reported either reducing or ceasing their use of those medicines. Among those respondents with a history of consuming prescription opioids, 88 percent reported mitigating or stopping their use.
“Our findings suggest that de facto medical use may be highly prevalent among adult use customers, and that access to an adult use cannabis market may influence individuals’ use of other medications,” authors concluded. “Our findings … suggest that adult use customers may be similar to medical cannabis patients in their use of cannabis as a substitute for prescription analgesics and sleep aids. … While adult use laws are frequently called ‘recreational,’ … our findings suggest that many customers use cannabis for symptom relief.”
Longitudinal studies assessing the use of prescription drugs following patients’ enrollment in state-sanctioned medical cannabis access programs frequently report a decline in the use of conventional medicines, specifically opioids, anti-anxiety drugs, and sleep aids.