A new study funded by the UBC Institute for Healthy Living and Chronic Disease Prevention suggested patients that have access to medical cannabis will reduce their use of prescription medication, alcohol and other narcotics.

The study used the 414-question Cannabis Access for Medical Purposes Survey to gather information on a group of 473 adults who use cannabis for therapeutic purposes to observe the impacts cannabis had on the use of other psychoactive substances

The vast majority of respondents (87 per cent) reported substituting cannabis for one or more of the other substances.

Substitution for prescription drugs was reported at over 80 per cent, over 51 per cent for alcohol, and over 32 per cent for illicit substances.

“Respondents who reported substituting cannabis for prescription drugs were more likely to report difficulty affording sufficient quantities of cannabis,” the report noted. “Patients under 40 years of age were more likely to substitute cannabis for all three classes of substance than older patients.”

The study recommended that further research should be done to explain the differences between substitution of prescription and psychoactive drugs.

“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,” the report concluded.

The full study can be read in the September issue of the Drug and Alcohol Review.

The study’s lead researcher was Philippe Lucas, a University of Victoria PhD candidate and patient research and services vice president at licensed cannabis producer Tilray.