AUTHOR INFO & ABSTRACT

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  • Philippe Lucas,
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    Corresponding author

    • Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia, University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada

    • Correspondence to Mr Philippe Lucas, University of Victoria, Social Dimensions of Health, 3800 Finnerty Rd, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada; V8P 5C2, Tilray, 1100 Maughan Rd., Nanaimo, British Columbia, V9X1J2, Canada. Tel: 250-588-1160; Fax: 1-888-783-1323; E-mail: plucas@uvic.ca

  • Zach Walsh,
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    • Psychology, The University of British Columbia, Kelowna, Canada

  • Kim Crosby,
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    • Psychology, The University of British Columbia, Kelowna, Canada

  • Robert Callaway,
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    • Medical Cannabis Advocate, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

  • Lynne Belle-Isle,
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    • Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia, University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada
    • Canadian AIDS Society, Ottawa, Canada

  • Robert Kay,
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    • GreenLeaf Technologies, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada

  • Rielle Capler,
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    • Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

  • Susan Holtzman
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    • Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, Kelowna, Canada


  • First published: 14 September 2015Full publication history
  • DOI: 10.1111/dar.12323View/save citation
  • Cited by: 1 article
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  • Funding Information
  • Philippe Lucas MA, PhD, Student, Social Dimensions of Health, University of Victoria, VP, Patient Research and Services, Zach Walsh PhD, Associate Professor, Kim Crosby MA, Robert Callaway MA, Medical Cannabis Advocate, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Lynne Belle-Isle PhD, Social Dimensions of Health, University of Victoria, Candidate, Robert Kay GreenLeaf Technologies, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, Rielle Capler MHA, PhD, Student, Susan Holtzman PhD.

Abstract

Introduction and Aims

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.

Design and Methods

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 information on patient demographics, medical conditions and symptoms, patterns of medical cannabis use, cannabis substitution and barriers to access to medical cannabis.

Results

Substituting cannabis for one or more of alcohol, illicit drugs or prescription drugs was reported by 87% (n = 410) of respondents, with 80.3% reporting substitution for prescription drugs, 51.7% for alcohol, and 32.6% for illicit substances. Respondents who reported substituting cannabis for prescription drugs were more likely to report difficulty affording sufficient quantities of cannabis, and patients under 40 years of age were more likely to substitute cannabis for all three classes of substance than older patients.

Discussion and Conclusions

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. Further research should seek to differentiate between biomedical substitution for prescription pharmaceuticals and psychoactive drug substitution, and to elucidate the mechanisms behind both. [Lucas P, Walsh Z, Crosby K, Callaway R, Belle-Isle L, Kay B, Capler R, Holtzman S. Substituting cannabis for prescription drugs, alcohol, and other substances among medical cannabis patients: The impact of contextual factors. Drug Alcohol Rev 2016;35:326–333]

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/dar.12323/abstract