A new survey published this month in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs helps explain why Big Pharma is so afraid of cannabis. The pharmaceutical and alcohol industries, both powerful influences in Washington, have long lobbied against cannabis legalization in order to protect their profits.
However, the tide has turned as decriminalization of medical and recreational cannabis sweeps the nation and the continent. With legalization, more and more people are discovering how this plant can provide a safe alternative to the dangerous effects of prescription pills.
Researchers recently distributed 400 questionnaires to medical marijuana patients at a public event asking them about their usage and attitudes toward the U.S. health care system. The results of that survey were published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.
As Marijuana Moment points out, the participants reported using marijuana for various medical conditions, including chronic pain, muscle spasms, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Most of them said that cannabis represented an effective and relatively harmless alternative to pharmaceuticals that are conventionally prescribed for their respective conditions.
“In comparison to pharmaceutical drugs, medical cannabis users rated cannabis better on effectiveness, side effects, safety, addictiveness, availability, and cost,” the study found. “Due to the medical use of cannabis, 42 percent stopped taking a pharmaceutical drug and 38 percent used less of a pharmaceutical drug.”
Highlighting the potential for marijuana to curb the nation’s drug problem, the most common drugs patients reported quitting or reducing using were opioid-based painkillers, non-opioid painkillers, benzodiazepines and anti-depressants.
The survey of 473 adult therapeutic cannabis users found that 87% of respondents gave up prescription medications, alcohol, or other drugs in favor of cannabis. Adults under 40 were likely to give up all three of these for medical cannabis.
The most startling revelation, and one that will have Big Pharma running to their crony lawmakers, is that 80% of respondents reported substituting cannabis for prescription drugs.
In addition, 52% said they substituted cannabis for alcohol and 32% said they substituted it for illicit substances. These results indicate a very promising trend of people moving away from dangerously addictive and deadly substances in favor of a miracle plant that has never caused an overdose death.
The finding that cannabis was substituted for all three classes of substances suggests that the medical use of cannabis may play a harm reduction role in the context of use of these substances, and may have implications for abstinence-based substance use treatment approaches. Further research should seek to differentiate between biomedical substitution for prescription pharmaceuticals and psychoactive drug substitution, and to elucidate the mechanisms behind both.”
We are just beginning to confirm the benefits of cannabis on other conditions such as anxiety which is normally treated with pills such as Xanax, insomnia which is normally treated with pills such as Ambien, and antidepressants which are treated with pills such as Zoloft. All of these prescription drugs can cause debilitating addiction or severe side-effects.
Although the war on drugs put a stop to medical cannabis research for decades, in recent years we have seen a surge in studies being performed, as prohibition crumbles and the Schedule 1 classification of “no medical benefit” is exposed as a farce.