Medical Cannabis Decreases Use of Pharmaceutical Agents for Pain, Anxiety and Sleep


A prior epidemiological study identified a reduction in opioid overdose deaths in US states that legalized medical cannabis (MC). One theory to explain this phenomenon is a potential substitution effect of MC for opioids. This study evaluated whether this substitution effect of MC for opioids also applies to other psychoactive medications. New England dispensary members ( n = 1,513) completed an online survey about their medical history and MC experiences. Among respondents that regularly used opioids, over three-quarters (76.7%) indicated that they reduced their use since they started MC. This was significantly ( p < 0.0001) greater than the patients that reduced their use of antidepressants (37.6%) or alcohol (42.0%). Approximately two-thirds of patients decreased their use of anti-anxiety (71.8%), migraine (66.7%), and sleep (65.2%) medications following MC which significantly ( p < 0.0001) exceeded the reduction in antidepressants or alcohol use. The patient’s spouse, family, and other friends were more likely to know about their MC use than was their primary care provider. In conclusion, a majority of patients reported using less opioids as well as fewer medications to treat anxiety, migraines, and sleep after initiating MC. A smaller portion used less antidepressants or alcohol. Additional research is needed to corroborate these self-reported, retrospective, cross-sectional findings using other data sources.

Clinical Trials, Studies and Publications (click to access):

Substitution of medical cannabis for pharmaceutical agents for pain, anxiety, and sleep.

Authors: BJ Piper, RM DeKeuster, ML Beals, CM Cobb, CA Burchman, L Perkinson, ST Lynn, SD Nichols, AT Abess

J Psycopharmacology 2017 Mar 1 (Epub ahead of print)

Marijuana use produced substantial increase in food intake among HIV-positive patients

“Individuals with HIV constitute the largest group using cannabinoids for medicinal reasons; yet, no studies have directly compared the tolerability and efficacy of smoked marijuana and oral dronabinol maintenance in HIV-positive marijuana smokers. This placebo-controlled within-subjects study evaluated marijuana and dronabinol across a range of behaviors: eating topography, mood, cognitive performance, physiologic measures, and sleep.”

“…. data suggest that for HIV-positive marijuana smokers, both dronabinol (at doses 8 times current recommendations) and marijuana were well tolerated and produced substantial and comparable increases in food intake.”

Clinical Trials, Studies and Publications:

Dronabinol and Marijuana in HIV-Positive Marijuana Smokers: Caloric Intake, Mood, and Sleep

Medical Marijuana Is Great For Insomnia

Couple In Bed With Wife Suffering From InsomniaInsomnia is the inability to fall asleep and stay asleep due to stress anxiety or health issues. It is a very common sleep disorder. People who have insomnia have a hard time falling asleep. Often throughout the night one will wake up and have trouble going back to sleep. Troubled sleepers will often wake up too early and feel tired when they wake. Treatments for insomnia are usually with pharmaceutical drugs that can have negative side effects.

Primary and secondary insomnia are the two types of insomnia. Primary insomnia is when the person has trouble sleeping that is not associated with other health conditions. Secondary is when other health issues contribute to insomnia. Examples are pain, depression or other medications used.

Medicinal Marijuana could become the next highly recommended alternative to pharmaceutical drugs for insomnia. Unlike treatments currently available, medical marijuana does not have the harmful side effects. Once the medical marijuana is used the brain receptors relax and peaceful sleep is attainable. There are no typical side effects of medical marijuana. Typically one could have an increased appetite or elevated mood. Release from pain can alleviate insomnia.

Pharmaceutical drugs can have harmful side effects. Not only do the drugs cause a dependency they can effect other organs of the body as well. Pharmaceutical drugs can help with insomnia but at what cost.  A cycle of dependency is also common in pharmaceutical drug use. Medical marijuana has no such side effects. Wake up refreshed and rested. The neurons of the brain are relaxed and the agitated state is removed giving one a peaceful nights sleep without having the awful side effects the next day. Under a doctors supervision the new alternative could be the future of fighting insomnia. Medicinal Marijuana can be a safe alternative that alleviates insomnia.

Many studies are ongoing,  once accepted for the positive contributions it can have, medical marijuana will save many a long sleepless night.