Pubdate: Thu, 29 Oct 2020
Source: Regina Leader-Post (CN SN)
Copyright: 2020 The Leader-Post Ltd.
Author: Angela Stelmakowich


43.5 per cent of study participants who used marijuana as a substitute
for alcohol decreased the frequency of their drinking.

Authorized medical marijuana patients who began using cannabis to help
reduce their drinking report experiencing a reduction or even
discontinuation of alcohol use, notes new research out of the
University of Victoria.

The finding reflects feedback from 2,102 patients registered with
Tilray, a medical cannabis research and production company in Canada.
The input was received as part of the Canadian Cannabis Patient Survey
2019, which gathered details on patient demographics, patterns of weed
use and self-reported use of prescription drugs, alcohol, tobacco and
illicit drugs before and after starting medical cannabis.

Of the participants who reported using alcohol on at least 10
occasions in the 12 months prior to starting medical cannabis, 43.5
per cent said the frequency of their drinking fell. Specifically,
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Additionally, 34.1 per cent of participants cited a drop in the number
of standard drinks consumed weekly, 59 per cent reported no change and
seven per cent noted an increase, according to a statement from Tilray.

In all, 7.8 per cent of respondents said they had not had alcohol in
the 30 days prior to the survey; they were classified as having ceased

"Being younger than 55 years and reporting higher rates of alcohol use
prior to initiating medical cannabis use were both associated with
greater odds of reducing alcohol use," notes the study, recently
published in the International Journal of Drug Policy.

"Having an intention to use medical cannabis to reduce alcohol
consumption was associated with significantly greater odds of both
reducing and ceasing alcohol use altogether," Tilray reports in the
statement.There is "a growing body of evidence that medical cannabis
use is often associated with reductions in the use of other

Those findings jibe with "a growing body of evidence that medical
cannabis use is often associated with reductions in the use of other
substances," Philippe Lucas, a University of Victoria researcher who
led the study and is Tilray's vice president of global patient
research and access, says in the company statement.

"This study found that medical cannabis initiation was also associated
with reductions in tobacco/nicotine use, and the use of prescription
opioids and other prescription drugs," Lucas notes in an email
response to The GrowthOp. That data "will be the focus of other
upcoming publications."

While researchers believed cannabis use could be associated with less
use of some other substances, what they didn't have a clear view of
was why changes were happening at the individual level.

A number of population-level studies out of the U.S. have a=80=9Cnoted
reductions in alcohol-related harms (violent crimes, homicides,
alcohol-related automobile fatalities, suicides, etc.) following the
legalization of medical and recreational cannabis," Lucas told The
GrowthOp. That said, "very few studies have reported on
individual-level patient experiences, and none have provided this
level of granularity/detail," he said.

Alcohol is the most prevalent recreational substance in the world, and
its use results in significant rates of criminality, morbidity and
mortality, Lucas notes in the statement. "These findings may result in
improved health outcomes for medical cannabis patients, as well as
overall improvements in public health and safety," adds the study abstrac

Based on polling on the subject, Lucas says almost 90 per cent of
surveyed Canadians support the medical use of cannabis. "While there
is still resistance from medical associations like the Canadian
Medical Association, more and more MDs now prescribe," he told The
GrowthOp, citing Health Canada data that suggests about 20 per cent of
doctors are in favour.

That support is likely key given that access to medical marijuana
continues to be an issue. Calling the situation "highly problematic,"
Lucas says "cost is still a significant barrier to access, as is lack
of availability via pharmacies."
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MAP posted-by: Matt