A study in Canada has brought further evidence to light showing that medical cannabis cuts drug reliance. In particular, the study’s results highlighted medical cannabis’s ability to lessen patients’ need for specific pharmaceutical drugs to treat pain and anxiety. It also appears medical cannabis is the treatment of choice, according to a survey of registered medical cannabis users in Canada.
Conducted on Canadian patients at cannabinoid clinics, the study noted a drop in reliance on the psychoactive drugs, benzodiazepines, in almost half the patients within three months.
About one in 10 Canadians use benzodiazepines every day, primarily to treat anxiety and insomnia. Benzodiazepines are also known by their trade names, Valium or Xanax among others. More informally, they are known as “benzos”. However, benzodiazepines have given rise to concern regarding the side-effects of long-term use, particularly in the elderly. Side-effects can include drowsiness, unsteadiness and dizziness, concentration problems, headaches and possible memory difficulties. After long term use, tolerance of the drug, addiction and overdose can be added to the list of possible concerns.
Benzodiazepines in various forms, are primarily used for certain conditions and purposes. These include treating insomnia; reducing anxiety and panic disorders; as adjuncts to anesthesia; for treating or preventing seizures; as a muscle relaxant, and to help people cope with withdrawal from alcohol.
Medical cannabis cuts drug reliance almost in half
The year-long observational study showed medical cannabis cuts drug reliance on benzodiazepines completely in 40 percent of the 146 patients isolated from a database of over 1 500 patients. After a year of medical cannabis treatment, this statistic had risen to 45 percent.
More than half of the group were looking for pain relief and almost a third wanted treatment for psychiatric problems. Just over 11 percent had neurological conditions.
The results of the study run by Canabo Medical Inc, in partnership with medical researchers, were announced at a Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids event held earlier this month in Toronto.
The company’s executive chairman, Dr Neil Smith, hailed the results as “extremely promising”. He said they indicated that “the medical cannabis industry is at a real watershed moment.”
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The latest in a mounting pile of evidence
The Canabo study is the latest of many studies into the efficacy of medical cannabis from a medical point of view. And it seems like researchers are not the only ones involved in deciding whether or not medical cannabis cuts drug reliance in certain situations.
It would appear it’s increasingly becoming the choice of patients, too. That’s according to the results of an online survey of medical marijuana patients registered under Canada’s Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations. Responses were studied by researchers at the Canadian Universities of British Columbia and Victoria.
Considering the benefits and side effects of pharmaceuticals as opposed to pharmaceutical drugs for different conditions, the respondents came out positively in favor of medical cannabis. Out of the 271 registered patients who responded, 63% reported choosing to substitute medical cannabis for pharmaceutical opioids. Sixteen percent chose it over benzodiazepines, and 12 percent preferred using it to anti-depressants from a pharmacy.
It would seem patients themselves are giving the green light to medical cannabis as the treatment of choice over pharmaceutical drugs in certain circumstances. Indications from the survey are that their reason for doing so is their perception of medical cannabis as being safer and having less side-effects.