Medical Marijuana Users More Likely to Use Prescription Drugs for Medical, Nonmedical Purposes

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The results highlight the need to target medical marijuana users in an effort to reduce nonmedical prescription drug use.
The results highlight the need to target medical marijuana users in an effort to reduce nonmedical prescription drug use.

Patients who use medical marijuana may be more likely to use prescription drugs for both medical and nonmedical purposes, according to results published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine.

Previous studies found evidence that medical marijuana use reduces medical and nonmedical prescription drug use, but these new results contradict that hypothesis. The results highlight the need to target medical marijuana users in an effort to reduce nonmedical prescription drug use.

The study used simulations based on logistic regression analyses of data from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The researchers computed associations with adjusted risk ratios controlling for age, sex, race, health status, family income, and living in a state with legalized medical marijuana.

The results indicated that medical marijuana users were significantly more likely to report medical use of prescription drugs in the past 12 months compared with those who did not use medical marijuana (relative risk [RR], 1.62; 95% CI, 1.50-1.74).

People who used medical marijuana were also more likely to report nonmedical use of any prescription drug in the previous 12 months compared with people who did not use medical marijuana (RR, 2.12; 95% CI, 1.67-2.62). This risk was even more pronounced for pain relievers (RR, 1.95; 95% CI, 1.41-2.62), stimulants (RR, 1.86; 95% CI, 1.09-3.02), and tranquilizers (RR, 2.18; 95% CI, 1.45-3.16).

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Reference

Caputi TL, Humphreys K. Medical marijuana users are more likely to use prescription drugs medically and nonmedically. [published online April 17, 2018] J Addict Med. doi:10.1097/ADM.0000000000000405

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