Patients Are Dumping Benzodiazepines in Favor of Cannabis to Treat Anxiety
Along with the opioid epidemic, we are in the midst of a benzodiazepine epidemic. This class of prescription drugs, which includes the extremely popular drug Xanax, is primarily prescribed for anxiety, but is exceptionally prone to abuse, addiction, and were involved in almost 12,000 deaths a year.
“These are highly addictive and potentially lethal drugs, and many people don’t know that,” lead author Dr. Anna Lembke of the Stanford University School of Medicine said. “Sadly, most physicians are also unaware of this and blithely prescribe them without educating their patients about the risk of addiction.” [Source]
The public is waking up to the fact that pharmaceutical remedies are often very dangerous and can have serious side effects, while at the same to also waking up to the fact that cannabis is an exceptionally powerful healing medicine with nearly no harmful side effects whatsoever.
In the last couple of years as cannabis has become more mainstream and is further legalized, an exodus from pharmaceuticals has begun, and many people who need pain medication are dumping the opioids and pain pills in favor of cannabis.
Now, a couple of Canadian research studies indicate that people are also beginning to dump benzodiazepines and instead use cannabis and cannabis-derived medicines to alleviate anxiety.
As noted by Paul Armentano of NORML:
In the first study, Canadian researchers assessed the relationship between cannabis and benzodiazepines in a cohort of 146 patients enrolled in the nation’s medical marijuana access program. They reported that 30 percent of participants discontinued their use of anti-anxiety medications within two-months of initiating cannabis therapy, and that 45 percent did so by six-months. “Patients initiated on medical cannabis therapy showed significant benzodiazepine discontinuation rates after their first follow-up visit to their medical cannabis prescriber, and continued to show significant discontinuation rates thereafter,” authors concluded.
In the second study, investigators at the University of Michigan surveyed over 1,300 state-registered medical cannabis patients with regard to their use of opioids and benzodiazepines. They reported that 53 percent of respondents acknowledged substituting marijuana for opioids, and 22 percent did so for benzodiazepines.
This definitely follows the greater trend of patients seeking medical marijuana as a safe, natural, effective, and enjoyable alternative to pills, which is alarming to the pharmaceutical industry. Already, companies in the agribusiness sector are developing patents for cannabis related products, and it is feared that Monsanto, aka Bayer, is interested in being the future of this emerging market.
A report issued in 2018 quantified the potential losses to the pharmaceutical industry should they be unable to capitalize and seize a significant portion of market share of medical cannabis.
It seems the pharmaceutical trade has more than enough reasons to fear the legalization of marijuana, as an analysis conducted by the folks at New Frontier Data predicts the legal use of cannabis products for ailments ranging from chronic pain to seizures could cost marketers of modern medicine somewhere around $4 billion per year. [Source]
Patents related to cannabis and cannabis products are increasingly being filed with the U.S. Patent Office, both large companies and smaller ventures. In a recent article on this topic, Forbes magazine answered the question of whether or not cannabis can be patented:
Yes, this is presently a small area of activity, but may also represent opportunity. Plants can be patented in two ways, by way of “utility patents” (like 95% of all patents) or by way of a separate “plant patent” category. Utility patents are much stronger; plant patents are narrowly focused on a single “parent” plant and its direct descendants. By my count, there are currently only 5 US plant patent cases (4 pending applications, 1 issued patent), and 11 utility plant-directed patent cases (8 pending applications, 3 issued patents). Two companies are currently the main players in plants: the plant-focused Biotechnology Institute (Los Angeles CA) has 3 issued patents as well as 2 pending applications, and GW Pharmaceuticals (UK) has two plant-focused applications. GW is notable for having the largest cannabis-directed portfolio (80+ US cases) of all companies in the space, and is particularly focused on methods of treating diseases. [Source]
The full text of the study,“Reduction of benzodiazepine use in patients prescribed medical cannabis,” appears in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research here, and an abstract of the study, “Pills to pot: Observational analyses of cannabis substitution among medical cannabis users with chronic pain,” appears in The Journal of Pain here.
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Alex Pietrowski is an artist and writer concerned with preserving good health and the basic freedom to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. He is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com. Alex is an avid student of Yoga and life.
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