”This approach could be used to address heavy alcohol use,” said lead researcher Amanda Reiman. “People might substitute cannabis, a potentially safer drug than alcohol with less negative side-effects, if it were socially acceptable and available.”
According to Reiman, substitution “might be a viable alternative to abstinence for those who can’t or won’t completely stop using psychoactive substances.”
Reiman found that 65 percent of people reported using cannabis as a substitute because it has fewer adverse effects than alcohol, illicit or prescription drugs, 34 percent because it has less withdrawal potential and 57 percent because marijuana provides better symptom management.“Public support is rising for the legalization of recreational use and remains high for the use of marijuana as a medicine,” Reiman said. “The hope is that this interest will translate into increased research support and the removal of current barriers to conducting safe research, such as the Schedule I status of marijuana.”
Dr. Reiman’s research focuses on the study and evaluation of medical cannabis dispensaries as community health providers, and on the use of marijuana as a substitute for alcohol and other drugs.
An academic coordinator and lecturer at the University of California Berkley, she is the author of Medical Cannabis Facilities: Inside Cannabis Care, published in 2007.
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