Prescription Opioids Take a Backseat to Medical Cannabis, Study Shows

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by Sabrina Mueller, Awareness Junkie

New research shows that, given the choice, patients will now reach for cannabis over prescription opioids, anti-depressants and sedatives, such as Valium and Xanax.

Canada is one of the first nations to create a federal medical cannabis program. As of August 2016, more than 65,000 patients were receiving products from more than 30 federally-licensed medical cannabis producers.

Collecting Medical Cannabis Data

In order to asses the merit of the new federal program, professors at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the University of Victory created a survey of 107 questions. These questions pertained to demographics, patterns of use and the cannabis substitution effect.

Two hundred and seventy one patients, all with prescriptions to medical cannabis, responded to the survey. These individuals had a wide range of conditions including chronic pain, metal health and gastrointestinal issues, while also retaining prescriptions for many other drugs.

“This study is one of the first to track medical cannabis use under the new system of licensed producers, meaning that all participants had physician authorization to access cannabis in addition to their prescription medicines,” says UBC Associate Professor Zach Walsh, co-author of the study. (source)

Survey Results

Well over half (63 percent) of all survey participants stated their preference for cannabis over other prescription drugs. Of that 63 percent:

  • 30% chose cannabis over prescription opioids (to treat pain),
  • 16% chose cannabis over benzodiazepines (sedatives), and
  • 12% chose cannabis over anti-depressants.

Philippe Lucas, the study lead, is the vice president of patient research at Tilray. Tilray is a federally-authorized medical cannabis production and research company. He suggests that patients are more likely to chose cannabis over pharmaceutical drugs due to fewer side effects, better symptom management, and the perception that cannabis is safer than prescription drugs. (source)

The Future of Cannabis as a Substitution

Cannabis is a fairly new contender in the mainstream market for prescription drugs. Therefore, there is still much research needed to truly understand its effects.

“Further research into how well cannabis works compared to the accepted front-line treatments is warranted,” says Prof. Walsh. “Additionally, long-term research into the potential impact of the cannabis substitution on the quality of patients’ lives is ongoing.”

I find the idea of offering patients much safer alternatives to standard chemical medications very appealing. Consequently, I sincerely hope that more states across the United States pursue the use of medical cannabis and that science helps us discover the true long-term benefits of this plant.


Awareness Junkie created and published this article (Prescription Opioids Take a Backseat to Medical Cannabisunder a Creative Commons license with attribution to Sabrina Mueller and You may re-post freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Moreover, views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Awareness Junkie or its staff.


Sabrina Mueller is the co-founder of, an online community paving the way to better health, a balanced life and personal transformation. Sabrina is a certified Hatha, Yin, prenatal, and children's yoga teacher, as well as a landscape designer. She also founded a donation-based yoga program in her community, which reaches students who are less likely to attend a mainstream class. Sabrina has been on a personal quest to acquire knowledge about nutrition and holistic wellness, which has been fueled by the births of her two children. Her personal mantra is, "We are all humans just trying to get through this life the best way we know how, within each individual moment."