Investigators from the Bastyr University Research Institute assessed the frequency of drug substitution among a self-selected national sample of 2,774 self-identified marijuana consumers.
Just under half of respondents (46 percent) reported using cannabis in place of prescription medications. Respondents were most likely to use cannabis in lieu of narcotics/opioids (36 percent), anxiolytics/benzodiazepenes (14 percent), and antidepressants (13 percent).
Women were more likely than men to report drug substitution, as were older respondents. Those who identified as medical cannabis patients were more than four times as likely as non-medical users to report engaging in drug substitution.
"These data contribute to a growing body of literature suggesting cannabis, legal or otherwise, is being used as a substitute for prescription drugs, particularly prescription pain relievers," authors concluded.