Cannabis therapy has been underrated for decades, but now the bottleneck is finally spreading. An increase in available data and promising studies will usher in a new era of cannabis treatments. Such advancements will prove powerful in reducing pharmacological dependence and addiction.
A new paper, “Do-It-Yourself medicine? The impact of light cannabis liberalization on prescription drugs“, focused on the unregulated Italian market from 2016-2018 for hemp, or “light cannabis” (THC content less than 0.5%). This paper illuminates the reality behind self-medication and light cannabis.
Decrease in prescription drugs use
According to the findings, the unregulated Italian light cannabis market led to a “decrease in the number of dispensed boxes of anxiolytics by approximately 11.5%, a reduction of dispensed sedatives by 10%, and a reduction of dispensed antipsychotics by 4.8%. More nuanced but still significant effects are found for anti-epileptics (-1.5%), anti-depressants (-1.2%), opioids (-1.2%), anti-migraines (-1%).”
CBD increasingly proves to have clinical potential for treating anxiety and psychosis.
Similarly, researchers Darden and Papageorge (2018) had found that “the availability of new and better drugs for depression has led to a reduction of forms of self-medication, such as alcohol, in the US.”
A beneficial loophole
Through using a loophole in the legislation, Italian grow shops were able to sell smokeable hemp as a collector’s item, not meant to be consumed.
For the first month or so after this loophole was created, there was no statistically significant shift. However, after the third-month trends were set. Six months post the liberalization of light cannabis, the trends continued.
Sedative consumption decreased by about 10%, and anti-psychotic consumption decreased by 4.8%.
Rather than indicating a trend, this timing is consistent with the public learning the benefits of light cannabis. Google Trends corroborates this as it shows an increase in queries on the potential clinical efficacy of light cannabis post-liberalization. It is possible patients were searching independently once light cannabis was available.
The potential of CBD
Italian researchers observed that “due to availability of light cannabis, the number of dispensed drug sales fell by approximately 1.6%, on average.”
However, the rate of 1-1.6% does not display the whole picture, and THC is not the only cannabinoid in play. While light cannabis in Italy must have below .6% THC, it is also potent with cannabidiol (CBD).
CBD increasingly proves to have clinical potential for treating anxiety and psychosis. It is critical to note that sedative consumption decreased by about 10%, and anti-psychotic consumption decreased by 4.8%.
The availability of new and better drugs for depression has led to a reduction of forms of self-medication, such as alcohol, in the US.
Additionally, cannabis has been found to help up to 50% of people stop opiate usage entirely. While pharmacological substances are a wonder in treating many conditions, addiction is a crisis.
However, cannabis was grown in Italy as early as the first century of the common era. Getting off the pills and rolling up some light cannabis is in itself more of a return to tradition than innovation.
Text: Karhlyle Fletcher
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