A new study has found that the widespread availability of CBD flower in Italy led to a significant reduction in the number of prescription drugs dispensed by the country’s National Health Service.
CBD flower, also called hemp flower or ‘cannabis light’, has been legal in Italy since 2016, when changes in hemp laws meant that flowers with less than 0.2% THC could be sold as collector’s items.
Now, just as the country’s Interior Minister is declaring war on shops selling low-THC cannabis flowers, a study out of York University has revealed just how much impact the availability of CBD-rich cannabis has had on Italy’s pharmaceutical sales.
The Italian National Health Service saw “a reduction in the number of dispensed boxes of anxiolytics [anti-anxiet medication] by approximately 11.5%, reduction of dispensed sedatives by 10% and a reduction of dispensed anti-psychotics by 4.8%.”
“This is intuitively explained by the relaxant properties of CBD, which is often used to treat sleep disorders,” the study notes.
“Moreover, the large coefficient we observe for sedatives and anxiolytics are also consistent with substitution stemming from self-assessment and self-medication, that is, the possibility to individually evaluate symptoms (i.e. anxiety and insomnia) and, consequently, to decide whether to take a pill.”
A small drop in the average number of anti-epileptics medications dispensed (-1.5%) was also observed, as well as anti-depressives (- 1.2%), opioids (-1.2%) and anti-migraine medication (approximately -1%).
The study made use of the “unintended liberalization of light cannabis” to look at the “substitutional effects between traditional prescribed drugs and a specific compound of marijuana, CBD, of which light cannabis is uncommonly rich.”
Researchers went on to highlight how “even a mild form of liberalization may generate a significant spillover effect on the market for pharmaceuticals.”
They finish by recommending “an effective regulation of the market and a proper evaluation of the use of light cannabis for medical purposes.”
Over here in the UK, the CBD flower market is under threat as a number of shops were raided last weekend.