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People Are Replacing Controlled Substances with Marijuana, Study Finds

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Canadians who use medical marijuana appear to reduce or eliminate their use of alcohol, tobacco, and pharmaceutical drugs, according to a study published in the Harm Reduction Journal.

Investigators from Canada and the U.S. had over 2,000 federally-registered medical marijuana patients to survey for the study, NORML reports.

“The most commonly cited substitution was for prescription drugs (69 percent), followed by alcohol (45 percent), tobacco (31 percent), and illicit substances (27 percent),” the study stated. “Of those reporting substituting cannabis for conventional medications, 35 percent said that they used cannabis in place of opioids. Of these, 59 percent said that they ultimately ceased their use of opiates.”

The study also stated, “Of the 515 respondents who substituted cannabis for alcohol, 31 percent suggested they stopped using it completely and 37 percent reported reducing [their consumption] by at least 75 percent. … Of the 406 participants who substituted cannabis for tobacco, 51 say they stopped using it completely and 14 percent reported reducing their use by 75 percent.”

The researchers concluded, “The findings … add to a growing body of academic research suggesting that increased regulated access to medical and recreational cannabis can result in a reduction in the use of and subsequent harms associated with opioids, alcohol, tobacco, and other substances.”

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