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Getty Images Justin Sullivan
As several states legalize a new study shows that Many patients choose medical cannabis to supplement or even replace pharmaceutical drugs.
The study is from the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, which surveyed 450 adults who identified themselves as current cannabis users. 78 percent of respondents said they use cannabis to treat a disease or condition.
The study finds that people use medical weeds for a variety of health problems, including chronic pain, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, menstrual cramps and headaches. It is also used to relieve the adverse effects of chemotherapy and relieve nausea in HIV-AIDS patients.
Nearly half of these users – 42 percent – said they had stopped taking a drug altogether, while 38 percent had stopped using it because of the use of marijuana medicines. Users reported that they trusted more in medical cannabis than in general health care, and rated the weeds better than drugs in terms of efficacy, side effects, availability and cost. Nearly a third of respondents (30 percent) said the doctor had not used medical marijuana.
The authors note how little was known about the mindsets of marijuana consumers and wrote, "Given the scientific status of medical cannabis, even basic information about users' attitudes and behaviors would be helpful." The findings suggest that medicinal cannabis users trust the plant more than pharmaceuticals, and they find relief enough when many other medicines are removed. At the same time, many do not share this decision with their health care providers.
Understanding these attitudes will, according to the authors, be essential to shaping politics. As more and more states legalize (while marijuana is still banned at the federal level), the issues surrounding medical marijuana will only get involved.
"Given the increasing use of cannabis for medical purposes and widespread use for recreational purposes despite criminalization," said Daniel Kruger, a co-author of the study, in a statement "The current framework for public health focusing in cannabis abstinence seems outdated. "People who use weeds to improve their health – even when they turn away from medicines – are" no longer useful advice ".