By / November 25, 2019

U.S. legalization means more are using cannabis for sleep

Insomnia is not a condition that qualifies for medical cannabis use in any state in America, but recent research suggests that many recreational cannabis users are using cannabis for sleep.

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New study shows using cannabis for sleep can be beneficial to recreational users

According to new research, people with insomnia can use cannabis to help them fall asleep instead of using traditional OTC sleeping pills.

The study, recently published in the journal, “Complementary Therapies in Medicine,” aims to explain “whether people are replacing recreational cannabis with conventional over-the-counter sleeping pills.”

To test their theory, researchers have studied data from a grocery store scanner registered in Colorado, between December 2013 and December 2014. Based on this data, the researchers measured monthly sales of sleeping pills at different locations.

In 2014, adult cannabis sales became legal in Colorado, and licensed cannabis shops began to gradually appear. Researchers monitored every cannabis store that opened and observed whether sales of sleeping pills decreased in local grocery stores.

The trend of using cannabis for sleep in Colorado

dispensary selling cannabis for sleep
In Colorado, the opening of cannabis stores led to a decrease in sales of sleeping pills. (Source)

“Compared to the general market for sleeping pills, the market share of over-the-counter sleeping pills was increasing before recreational cannabis was available,” wrote the authors of the study.

But after the opening of legal cannabis stores, sales of over-the-counter sleeping pills in nearby grocery stores have fallen.

As the number of cannabis stores in the same district increased, so did the sales of cannabis. This ultimately resulted in a further decline in the share of OTC sleeping pills in the overall sleeping pills market.

The study shows that sales of drugs such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and doxylamine (Unisom) have fallen significantly more than sales of natural sleeping aids such as melatonin.

Sleeplessness does not currently qualify as a condition for medical cannabis

“These facts confirm the results of a survey showing that many people use cannabis to treat insomnia, although sleep disturbances are not on the list that qualifies for a prescription for medical cannabis,” The authors summed it up. “Research to measure the relative efficacy and side-effect profiles of conventional OTC and cannabis-based sleeping pills is urgently needed to improve the treatment of sleep disorders while minimizing potentially serious adverse side effects.”

woman using cannabis for sleep
Many recreational users are turning to cannabis to treat insomnia. (Source)

“We see declining sales of OTC sleeping pills that can be associated with direct users of cannabis to treat sleep disorders, because cannabis affects basic conditions and behaviors affecting sleep, such as anxiety,” said Sarah Stith, co-author of the study, Assistant Professor at the University of New Mexico (UNM), in a statement. “Our earlier research confirms the existence of both mechanisms.”

The Federal ban on cannabis, which prevents many scientists from legally obtaining high-quality cannabis for clinical trials, has forced scientists to use this method to test their hypothesis.


(Featured image by Alessandro Zambon via Unsplash)

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