The University of New Mexico newsroom reported a study on the use of recreational cannabis to treat insomnia. The study, titled Using Recreational Cannabis to Treat Insomnia: Evidence from Over-The-Counter Sleep Aid Sales in Colorado, conducted by researchers at the University of Mexico (UNM) and California State Polytechnic University (CalPoly) found that medical cannabis may be an effective method to alleviate insomnia.
Assistant Professor Jacqueline Doremus (CalPoly, Economics), Assistant Professor Sarah Stith (UNM, Economics) and Associate Professor Jacob Vigil (UNM, Psychology) authored the study, and determined that access to recreational cannabis reduced demand for sleep aids purchased over the counter. The researchers looked at the largest repository of UPC-level scanner data in the country, which was collected by the Nielsen Company. Upon creating a market share for OTC sleep aids, researchers measured how the store-level OTC sleep aid market shares changed when recreational cannabis dispensaries were in the same county in which the store was located.
Doremus shared in the news report that by observing large data sets and “natural” or “quasi-experimental research designs,” it is possible to gain insight into the impact of cannabis in an area where traditional approaches have not had very much success in providing the information necessary for information’s to make informed decisions concerning their use of cannabis.
Stith added that the study has important implications, such as from a public health perspective.
“From a public health perspective, the possible widespread use of cannabis for less severe medical conditions both highlights its therapeutic potential and raises concerns regarding the risk-benefit tradeoffs of substituting a substance associated with abuse and dependence for relatively ineffective OTC medications with typically low levels of abuse potential.”
She also addressed the economic or business perspective has implications for a multimillion-dollar US market that includes OTC sleep aids.
Vigil also shared in the report that the absence of medical guidance does not necessarily mean that there is a lack of medical use.