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One third of Illinois medical marijuana patients responding to a new study said they stopped using all prescription drugs after starting medicinal cannabis. Ninety-two percent decreased the number of prescription drugs taken.

That’s according to Aclara Research, which specializes in the development of patient and consumer insights within the medical cannabis industry. Aclara on Tuesday released the results of the Illinois Medical Cannabis Patient Experience Study.

The study is the first of Illinois patients since the inception of the pilot medical marijuana program in 2012. The study is the largest and most comprehensive look at the impact of the statewide program. It examines nearly 300 of the 18,000 Illinois residents registered.

The Aclara Research study found that 86 percent of survey respondents are managing leading symptoms of chronic pain. While chronic pain is not one of the 41 qualifying conditions in Illinois, cannabis shows strong potential in treating autoimmune diseases in which chronic inflammation plays a central role.

Key findings from the study include:

• Key gender gaps exist within the health care system as well as medical cannabis use. Across Illinois patients, women are up to 50 percent more likely to suffer with leading symptoms of chronic pain including trouble sleeping, back and joint pain, body ache and anxiety.

• Eighty six percent of patients reported suffering with symptoms of chronic pain. While not a qualifying condition for program participation in Illinois, patients are treating the leading symptoms of chronic pain which impacts more than 130 million Americans. Based on the national costs calculated by the National Center for Biotechnology and Information, chronic pain costs the U.S. $635 billion each year in medical costs and declines in individual productivity.

• Three-fourths of Illinois patients report having trouble sleeping. This is a significant health issue. Lack of sleep makes it hard to concentrate, remember things, and can make driving dangerous. This condition affects at least 50 million Americans.

• Thirty three percent of study respondents stopped using all prescription drugs after using medical cannabis and 92 percent decreased the number of prescription drugs taken. Applying these results to a recent study on the impact of medical cannabis on Medicaid costs, there is potential for $180 million in savings to the Illinois Medicaid program.*

• Twenty two percent of patients had no previous experience with cannabis prior to entering the Illinois medical cannabis program. This is in stark contrast to other medical marijuana programs across the country, and is driven by women. Twenty six percent of women in Illinois reported being new to using cannabis. Thirty-nine percent of Illinois patients have used cannabis for more than a decade, consistent with previous studies.

• Forty seven percent of patients are using Cannabidiol (CBD) daily. Two-thirds of patients use CBD. Women lead this consumption trend, over 75 percent consume CBD daily.

[Aclara Research]

• Forty nine percent of patients earn less than $40,000 annually AND spend more than $3,000 on cannabis products each year. Medical cannabis patients make a significant investment in their health, spending more than $3,000 each year on cannabis products -which are not covered under their health insurance.

• Illinois patients spend 60 percent of their cannabis budget on flower. Concentrates are second most popular, with 22 percent. Edibles come in at 10 percent, and all other products comprise eight percent of patients’ budgets.

• The top three symptoms across all Illinois patients are trouble sleeping, 75 percent; anxiety, 69 percent; and body ache, 64 percent. Many chronic pain conditions can increase the feeling of anxiety, which may result in higher usage of prescription drugs. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that more than 40 million adults have general anxiety disorder.

Industry experts have labeled the Illinois program as one of the most restrictive in the country based on condition list and application requirements. But the Aclara Illinois Medical Cannabis Patient Experience Study showcases the positive benefits the pilot program has had on the lives of those suffering from the qualifying debilitating conditions, as well as the potential benefits to health care costs.

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Carmen Brace, Aclara Research:
“We are excited to be the first to conduct the largest study of Illinois patients since the inception of the pilot program”
[Aclara Research]

This is the first study conducted in Illinois by Aclara Research. The company has, however, already conducted comprehensive studies across multiple states including Michigan, Oregon and Colorado. A second study in Illinois is slated to be released in the fall.

“We are excited to be the first to conduct the largest study of Illinois patients since the inception of the pilot program,” said Carmen Brace, founder of Aclara Research. “We will continue to build strong partnerships within the state and other markets to provide our clients with insights that lead to consumer centric product innovation and business strategies across medical use markets.”

For more information or to learn more about the Illinois study, visit


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