Researchers have long wondered about the intentions of recreational marijuana usage in non-medically licensed customers. Some claimed that the increasing development of marijuana dispensaries encouraged the use of weed as a drug for purely recreational purposes. Just last year, this was proved to be false. In fact, it was found that the use of cannabis can actually decrease the use of over-the-counter medication and opioid analgesics used for pain management, and over-the-counter medication and prescription sleep aids.
A study performed in Colorado asked a sample of 1,000 adult-use (non-medical) dispensary customers on their intentions when using cannabis. The results were shocking. Surveying two retail cannabis stores, it was found that 65 percent of adult-use customers use the drug as a way to manage and relieve pain. Even more customers were found to use cannabis as a sleep aid, with 74 percent of survey respondents reporting purchasing and consuming cannabis to promote sleep.
Although many dispensary customers claim to use cannabis for some sort of symptom relief, not all of these adult-use consumers report it being helpful. Despite this, over 80 percent of survey respondents that did use cannabis to manage insomnia and pain did find cannabis to be helpful, and even decreased or stopped using other forms of medication for sleep disorders or pain management.
What does this mean for the future of medicine? Major pharmaceutical companies are in trouble. Companies that manufacture dangerous and addictive medications should be scared. The Washington Post reported that pharmaceutical companies are fighting legal marijuana because when medical marijuana is available, many pain patients are choosing the former option over addictive and dangerous narcotics. This conclusion is backed by other recent studies, which found that the use of prescription drugs that can be substituted for cannabis falls dramatically once a region legalizes medical marijuana.
Cannabis has many healing properties not only when it comes to treating chronic pain and insomnia, but mental health disorders as well. A study published by Health Affairs found that states allowing for the use of medical marijuana see decreases in pills prescribed for anxiety, psychosis, and depression. This is in addition to nausea, seizures, spasticity, and glaucoma. It is important to note that not all patients are the same, and many people experience different levels of effectiveness when it comes to using cannabis as an alternative form of medication.
Many people fear that the emergence of recreational marijuana dispensaries in their states will turn all residents into stoners. These people are misinformed on the true intentions of cannabis consumption and the positive effects that it can have on mental and physical illnesses as well as addiction in their regions. Prescription medication can be dangerous, especially when it is used to manage pain or a sleep disorder. If there is an alternative that is substantially less harmful, it should be accessible by everyone. Doctors are giving out addictive medications like Xanax, Vicodin, Oxycodone, and other dangerous opioids like their jobs depend on it. And in a way, it sort of does.