Medical cannabis access, use, and substitution for prescription opioids and other substances: A survey of authorized medical cannabis patients

Published on Apr 1, 2017in International Journal of Drug Policy5.009
路 DOI :10.1016/J.DRUGPO.2017.01.011
Philippe Lucas16
Estimated H-index: 16
(UVic: University of Victoria),
Zach Walsh25
Estimated H-index: 25
(UBC: University of British Columbia)
Sources
Abstract
Abstract Background In 2014 Health Canada replaced the Marihuana for Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) with the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR). One of the primary changes in the new program has been to move from a single Licensed Producer (LP) of cannabis to multiple Licensed Producers. This is the first comprehensive survey of patients enrolled in the MMPR. Methods Patients registered to purchase cannabis from Tilray, a federally authorized Licenced Producer (LP) within the MMPR, were invited to complete an online survey consisting of 107 questions on demographics, patterns of use, and cannabis substitution effect. The survey was completed by 271 respondents. Results Cannabis is perceived to be an effective treatment for diverse conditions, with pain and mental health the most prominent. Findings include high self-reported use of cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs (63%), particularly pharmaceutical opioids (30%), benzodiazepines (16%), and antidepressants (12%). Patients also reported substituting cannabis for alcohol (25%), cigarettes/tobacco (12%), and illicit drugs (3%). A significant percentage of patients (42%) reported accessing cannabis from illegal/unregulated sources in addition to access via LPs, and over half (55%) were charged to receive a medical recommendation to use cannabis, with nearly 25% paying $300 or more. Conclusion The finding that patients report its use as a substitute for prescription drugs supports prior research on medical cannabis users; however, this study is the first to specify the classes of prescription drugs for which cannabis it is used as a substitute, and to match this substitution to specific diagnostic categories. The findings that some authorized patients purchase cannabis from unregulated sources and that a significant percentage of patients were charged for medical cannabis recommendations highlight ongoing policy challenges for this federal program.
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Recent years have witnessed increased attention to how cannabis use impacts the use of other psychoactive substances. The present study examines the use of cannabis as a substitute for alcohol, illicit substances and prescription drugs among 473 adults who use cannabis for therapeutic purposes.The Cannabis Access for Medical Purposes Survey is a 414-question cross-sectional survey that was available to Canadian medical cannabis patients online and by hard copy in 2011 and 2012 to gather informat...
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