BERKELEY, Calif., Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Substituting marijuana for more harmful drugs may be a winning strategy in the fight against substance abuse, a U.S. researcher says.
A study, published in the Harm Reduction Journal, of 350 marijuana users indicates 40 percent used marijuana to control their alcohol cravings, 66 percent as a replacement for prescription drugs and 26 percent for other, more potent, illegal drugs.
Amanda Reiman of the University of California, Berkeley, conducted the study at a medical marijuana dispensary.
"Substituting cannabis for alcohol has been described as a radical alcohol treatment protocol," Reiman said in a statement.
"This approach could be used to address heavy alcohol use in the British Isles -- people might substitute cannabis, a potentially safer drug than alcohol with less negative side-effects, if it were socially acceptable and available."
Sixty-five percent of people reported using marijuana as a substitute because it has fewer adverse side effects than alcohol, illicit or prescription drugs, 34 percent because it has fewer withdrawal potential and 57.4 percent because marijuana provides better symptom management, the study says.