Results from the Canadian Cannabis Patient Survey 2019 (CCPS 2019), a large cross-sectional survey of medical cannabis patients in Canada, has suggested that users spontaneously reduce their alcohol intake while using the drug. The researchers, from various British Columbia-based academic institutions and medical cannabis producer Tilray, reported that medical cannabis use is associated with self-reported reductions and even discontinuation of alcohol use amongst cannabis-authorized patients.
Of the 2,102 people surveyed, 973 participants reported past or current alcohol use. Of these, 44 percent (419) reported decreasing alcohol use frequency over the last 30 days, 34 percent (323) decreased the number of drinks per week, while 8 percent (76) reported using no alcohol at all over the 30 days prior to the survey.
In another statistic from the study, the researchers found that median drinking days went from 10.5 days per month prior to cannabis use, to eight afterwards.
The survey results add to a growing body of evidence that medical cannabis use is often associated with reductions in the use of other substances—not just alcohol, but also opioids and illicit drugs.
“Our findings suggest that medical cannabis initiation may be associated with self-reported reductions and cessation of alcohol use among medical cannabis patients,” the authors wrote. “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. ”
Other studies have also proposed links between cannabis use and alcohol use reduction. For example an Oregon State University study published January 2020 found that binge drinking rates among college students were reduced in areas with legalized cannabis. And research published last year found binge drinking levels were 9 percent below the national average in those states where the drug was legal.