Availability of Low-THC Cannabis Products Associated with Reduced Use of Prescription Anxiolytics, Sedatives

Catanzaro, Italy: The availability of low-THC, high-CBD cannabis products in Italy is associated with a reduction in the use of prescription drugs, according to data published in the Journal of Health Economics.

A team of international investigators from France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands assessed the relationship between adults’ access to low-THC (below 0.6 percent THC) cannabis and prescription drug sales in 106 Italian provinces over a two-year period.

They reported, “[L]ocal availability of light cannabis [low-THC, CBD-based products] led to a significant decrease in the number of dispensed boxes of anxiolytics by approximately 11.5 percent, a reduction of dispensed sedatives by 10 percent and a reduction of dispensed anti-psychotics by 4.8 percent.”

Researchers also identified less significant reductions in the use of anti-epileptic medications, anti-depressants, opioids, and migraine drugs.

They concluded: “[T]his [data] represents the first-ever evidence from Europe on the substitution effects induced by a compound of cannabis, CBD. As the product is increasingly available in other …. Countries, our results provide relevant implications for policymakers.”

Full text of the study, “Do-It-Yourself medicine? The impact of light cannabis liberalization on prescription drugs,” appears in the Journal of Health Economics. Additional information on CBD is available from the NORML fact sheet.