Patients ditch their traditional medication in favour of cannabis 

Patients ditch their traditional medication in favour of cannabis 
© iStock/Stefan Tomic

New data suggests many patients are ditching traditional medication prescriptions such as pain killers and switching to medical cannabis instead.

Prescription drugs range from depressants and opioids to stimulants and are generally known to be highly addictive and capable of causing severe harm to the heart, brain, and liver with repeated use. Consequently, if patients abuse prescription drugs, it can ultimately prove to be life-threatening.

Now, the concern over the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse has led medical institutions and professionals to reconsider what patients are prescribed. Notably, in regions where cannabis is legalised for medical purposes, more and more patients are beginning to use cannabis as an alternative to pharmaceutical medications.

Patient growth

Specifically, Canada has witnessed its medical patient user base grow significantly over the past several years. There were 296,702 patients registered under Health Canada‘s Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) program as of March 2018. Compared to the same period a year prior, the number of registered patients that had switched from traditional medication to medical cannabis grew by 76.9%.

The robust growth reflects how rapidly the user base is growing as more people turn to cannabis as a medical alternative. Moreover, the global user base is projected to continually grow as well as more countries begin to implement medical cannabis programs. And according to data compiled by MarketsandMarkets, the global cannabis market is projected to grow.

Despite the growing global presence of the cannabis industry, the US is a major factor in its growth. The US alone accounts for a majority of the global market share and is expected to continue its dominance even though cannabis is still federally illegal within the US Nevertheless, the US Federal government has previously granted states the authority to legalise cannabis, or keep its illegal status based on their own accord.

As a result, 46 states allow some form of cannabis use, though the majority allow only medical and CBD use, which itself is often used medically. Additionally, advocates are citing recent research into and the development of CBD-based products, rallying to reclassify CBD from the broader cannabis classification. As a result of the strong demand for CBD legalisation many government agencies, such as the US Food and Drug Administration and US Drug Enforcement Administration, have been forced to reconsider CBD and its status.

Perteet Spencer, a Principal in the Brand Growth Solutions division at SPINS, said: “Some of those ingredients get re-looked at through a different lens. It becomes a little less taboo.

“You’re seeing massive legislative shifts that are going make a lot of things that were once completely off-limits a little more acceptable.”

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