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Does Cannabis Reduce Alcohol Use?

Updated: Sep 13, 2023

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Welcome to Cannabis Conclusions, a unique educational series from Higher Learning LV that is targeted at hemp and cannabis industry professionals. This series provides readers with the conclusion section from important modern peer-reviewed research studies.


A December 2020 study entitled "Reductions in Alcohol Use Following Medical Cannabis Initiation: Results From a Large Cross-sectional Survey of Medical Cannabis Patients in Canada" that was published in the International Journal of Drug Policy investigated the relationship between alcohol and medical cannabis. The research stated its goal as exploring "the self-reported use of cannabis as a substitute for alcohol among a Canadian medical cannabis patient population."


The Study

The study's authors reported that cannabis can "influence the use of other psychoactive substances, including prescription medications, alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs—but very little research has examined the factors associated with these changes in substance use patterns."


The study's authors reported that cannabis can "influence the use of other psychoactive substances, including prescription medications, alcohol, and tobacco."

The researchers reported that their data was obtained from "a survey of 2,102 people enrolled in the Canadian medical cannabis program" for which 973 respondents "who reported using alcohol on at least 10 occasions over a 12-month period prior to initiating medical cannabis" were included in an effort to determine "which participant characteristics and other variables were associated with reductions and/or cessation of alcohol use."


Study Conclusions

"Overall, 419 (44 percent) participants reported decreases in alcohol usage frequency over 30 days, 323 (34 percent) decreased the number of standard drinks they had per week, and 76 (eight percent) reported no alcohol use at all in the 30 days prior to the survey.


"Being below 55 years of age and reporting higher rates of alcohol use in the pre-period were both associated with greater odds of reducing alcohol use and an intention to use medical cannabis to reduce alcohol consumption was associated with significantly greater odds of both reducing and ceasing alcohol use altogether.


"Our findings suggest that medical cannabis initiation may be associated with self-reported reductions and cessation of alcohol use among medical cannabis patients."

"Our findings suggest that medical cannabis initiation may be associated with self-reported reductions and cessation of alcohol use among medical cannabis patients. Since alcohol is the most prevalent recreational substance in North America—and its use results in significant rates of criminality, morbidity and mortality—these findings may result in improved health outcomes for medical cannabis patients, as well as overall improvements in public health and safety."


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