Canadian Study: Medical cannabis use linked to reduction in alcohol intake

Nov 25, 2020

According to the results of a new research study, the deliberate use of medical cannabis to reduce alcohol consumption was associated with a greater likelihood of reducing and ceasing alcohol use. The results of the study were recently published in the International Journal of Drug Policy.

The study, led by Philippe Lucas, a researcher at the University of Victoria, and the VP of Global Patient Research and Access at Tilray, has revealed that the use of medical cannabis is significantly associated with self-reported reductions and even discontinuation of alcohol use amongst authorized Canadian patients. The results of the study analyzed data gathered as part of the Canadian Cannabis Patient Survey 2019 (CCPS 2019), a large-scale national cross-sectional survey. The CCPS 2019 was designed to collect detailed information on patient demographics, patterns of cannabis use, and self-reported use of prescription drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs before and after medical cannabis initiation from 2102 Canadian medical cannabis patients registered with Tilray, one of the largest producers of medical cannabis in the world.

“The results of CCPS 2019 add to a growing body of evidence that medical cannabis use is often associated with reductions in the use of other substances, including alcohol, opioids, tobacco and illicit drugs” said Lucas in his interview with Newswire. “Since alcohol is the most prevalent recreational substance in the world, and its use results in significant rates of criminality, morbidity and mortality, these findings may result in improved health outcomes for medical cannabis patients, as well as overall improvements in public health and safety.”

In addition, Tilray supports clinical and observational studies carried out in Canada, the United States, the European Union and Australia, which examine the efficacy of using medical cannabis as a treatment in conditions including pediatric epilepsy, essential tremor, post-traumatic stress disorder, and alcohol use disorder, and to address the side effects of cancer chemotherapy.

“A growing body of evidence that medical cannabis use is often associated with reductions in the use of other substances,” added Lucas. “This study found that medical cannabis initiation was also associated with reductions in tobacco/nicotine use, and the use of prescription opioids and other prescription drugs,” Lucas said in an interview with The GrowthOp. He added that these data “will be the focus of other upcoming publications.”

Out of the 973 survey participants who reported past or current alcohol use, 419 (44%) participants reported reductions in alcohol usage frequency over 30 days, while 323 (34%) participants decreased the number of standard drinks they had per week, and 76 (8%) participants reported no alcohol in the 30 days prior to the survey. In addition, being aged below 55 years and reporting higher rates of alcohol use prior to initiating medical cannabis use were both associated with improved odds of reducing alcohol use. Furthermore, having an intention to use medical cannabis to reduce alcohol consumption was associated with significantly greater odds of both reducing and ceasing alcohol use altogether.