• Nearly 1,300 respondents responded to an online survey on prescription drug substitution.
  • The results show that almost 50% of respondents replace prescription drugs with marijuana.
  • The study shows that in countries where cannabis use is legal, this substitution is more likely.

Study background

The study included: James M Corroon Jr., Laurie K Mischley and Michelle Sexton, and the main reason for the study was an increase in medical cannabis use, most often due to pain, anxiety and depression. Recent data suggest that prescription drug use and abuse may decline in countries where medical cannabis is legal.

The aim of this study was to get to know and examine cannabis users to see if they have intentionally replaced cannabis with prescription drugs.

Research methods

The study sample consisted of a total of 2774 individuals who signed up and confirmed that they had used cannabis at least once in the previous 90 days.

Individuals were interviewed through an anonymous online questionnaire that examined the effects of cannabis replacement. Participants were selected through social media or legal cannabis dispensaries in Washington state.


A total of 1,248 respondents (46%) stated that they use cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs. The most common types of drug substitution include narcotics / opiates (35.8%), anxiolytics / benzodiazepines (13.6%) and antidepressants (12.7%).

A total of 2,473 substitutions or approximately 2 drug substitutions per respondent were reported. The probability of drug substitution was 4.59 (95% confidence interval [CI], 3.87, 5.43) higher in medical cannabis users compared to non-medical cannabis users and 1.66 (95% CI, 1.27 and 2.16) higher in those who reported using it to relieve comorbidities of pain, anxiety and depression.

A slightly higher percentage of respondents who confirmed substitution lived in countries where the use of medical cannabis was legal at the time of the survey (47% vs. 45%, p = 0.58), but this difference was not statistically significant

Sources: study , image: www.khabarban.com