Here’s a bonus effect of using medical cannabis — you’re more likely to give up smoking according to a study by Canadian and US researchers on Canadian users of medical marijuana.
In the study, involving over 2100 individuals in total, 650 of whom were current or former tobacco or nicotine users, initiation of medical cannabis resulted in significantly less use of cigarettes.
Each subject was asked to report how frequently they used tobacco or nicotine products before they started using medical cannabis. Subjects were then asked to keep track of their nicotine use after they started using medical marijuana regularly.
320 of the 650 tobacco or nicotine users (49 percent) self-reported reductions in use after starting medical cannabis. What’s more, nearly a quarter (24.6 percent) reported quitting tobacco or nicotine use altogether, with neither being consumed in the 30 days prior to the survey.
Odds of tobacco / nicotine cessation were greater amongst those who were age 55 or older or that reported smoking more than 25 cigarettes per day.
The survey also looked at whether people were actively using medical cannabis as an aid to reduce their smoking, or if they had tried any other pharmacological or psychobehavioral cessation strategies previously.
This question highlighted a split in results: individuals who were specifically using medical marijuana to help them curb their nicotine usage were significantly more likely to achieve their goal. However, patients who had previously tried traditional smoking cessation therapies or drugs were less likely to reduce their nicotine intake after using medical cannabis.
“Results from this retrospective survey of medical cannabis users suggest that initiation of medical cannabis use was associated with self-reported reductions and/or cessation of [tobacco/nicotine] use in nearly half of study participants,” the study authors concluded.
“In light of the significant morbidity, mortality, and health care costs related to tobacco/nicotine dependence, future research should further evaluate the potential of cannabis-based treatments to support efforts to reduce or cease [its] use.”
Other research has suggested cannabis can help people quit smoking. For example one recent study found that subjects who were given CBD paid less attention to pictures of cigarettes, suggesting that cannabis compounds can help break addiction by altering the brain's attentional bias.