Marijuana as a Substitute for Prescription Medications

A Qualitative Study

Alana Mercurio, Elizabeth R. Aston, Kasey Claborn, Katherine Waye, Rochelle K. Rosen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Over the past few decades in the United States, marijuana for medical purposes has become increasingly prevalent. Initial qualitative and epidemiological research suggests that marijuana may be a promising substitute for traditional pharmacotherapies. Objectives: This qualitative study examined perceptions relating to (1) using medical marijuana in comparison to other prescription medications and (2) user perception of policy issues that limit adoption of medical marijuana use. Methods: Qualitative interviews were conducted with Rhode Island medical marijuana card holders (N = 25). The interviews followed a semi-structured agenda designed to collect information from participants about their reasons for, and perceptions of, medical marijuana use. All interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, and de-identified. Qualitative codes were developed from the agenda and emergent topics raised by the participants. Results: Three themes emerged related to medical marijuana use, including (1) comparison of medical marijuana to other medications (i.e., better and/or fewer side effects than prescription medications, improves quality of life), (2) substitution of marijuana for other medications (i.e., in addition to or instead of), and (3) how perception of medical marijuana policy impacts use (i.e., stigma, travel, cost, and lack of instruction regarding use). Conclusions: Several factors prevent pervasive medical marijuana use, including stigma, cost, and the inability for healthcare providers to relay instructions regarding dosing, strain, and method of use. Findings suggest that medical patients consider marijuana to be a viable alternative for opioids and other prescription medications, though certain policy barriers inhibit widespread implementation of marijuana as a treatment option.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1894-1902
Number of pages9
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Volume54
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 19 2019

Fingerprint

Medical Marijuana
Cannabis
Prescriptions
medication
Interviews
instruction
Costs and Cost Analysis
costs
interview
Qualitative Research
qualitative interview
substitution
Health Personnel
quality of life
Opioid Analgesics
travel
Quality of Life

Keywords

  • Medical marijuana
  • cannabis
  • marijuana policy
  • prescription substitution
  • qualitative interviews

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this

Marijuana as a Substitute for Prescription Medications : A Qualitative Study. / Mercurio, Alana; Aston, Elizabeth R.; Claborn, Kasey; Waye, Katherine; Rosen, Rochelle K.

In: Substance Use and Misuse, Vol. 54, No. 11, 19.09.2019, p. 1894-1902.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Mercurio, Alana ; Aston, Elizabeth R. ; Claborn, Kasey ; Waye, Katherine ; Rosen, Rochelle K. / Marijuana as a Substitute for Prescription Medications : A Qualitative Study. In: Substance Use and Misuse. 2019 ; Vol. 54, No. 11. pp. 1894-1902.
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