New Study Shows Patients Could be Benefiting from Self-Medicating with “Cannabis Light”
“Cannabis light,” hemp flower boasting low-THC and CBD-rich buds, has been connected to a decrease in the purchases of a variety of medications, showing that some patients would rather leave their prescription drugs to self-medication with unregistered CBD-based treatment.
In a new study published in the Journal of Health Economics, the availability of “cannabis light” flower containing no more than 0.6% THC in Italy was linked to:
- A 4.8% decrease in dispensed antipsychotics.
- A 10% decrease in dispensed sedatives.
- An 11.5% reduction in dispensed boxes of anxiolytics (anti-anxiety meds).
“The large-scale accessibility to the new product, which was advertised as a relaxant one, induced some patients to abandon traditional medicine to seek relief,” the researchers concluded.
During the study, the analysts examined monthly drug sales from an Italian association of pharmacy owners. The study analyzed the sales from January 2016 to February 2018. Since then, Italian authorities have made cannabis light less accessible.
The economists who created this study suggested that cannabis availability could result in self-medicating and the abandonment of prescription medications. This seems to be the case even in instances when the government is paying for the prescription medications.
Due to a loophole in Italy’s industrial hemp legislation passed in 2016, growers were allowed to cultivate and sell cannabis flower with 0.6% THC. This is more than the U.S.’s allowed percentage, which is only 0.3% THC.
Cannabis light first hit the market in May 2017. The market stayed mostly unregulated until May 2019. The former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini began a crackdown on cannabis, resulting in the country’s Supreme Court ban of the sale of cannabis derivatives.
The study’s authors also explained that the first retailers of cannabis light had been grow shops that were distributing products related to industrial hemp cultivation prior to the law changing. Once the law passed, cannabis became commercialized and increased in popularity across provinces.