December 3, 2019
Adult-use retail cannabis access is associated with a decline in the sales of over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aid medications, according to data published in the journal Complimentary Therapies in Medicine.
Investigators from the University of New Mexico and California Polytechnic State University assessed trends in the demand for OTC sleep aids in the years prior to and immediately after the enactment of adult-use marijuana regulation.
Researchers reported: “For the first time, we show a statistically significant negative association between recreational access to cannabis and OTC sleep aid sales, suggesting that at least some recreational purchasers are using cannabis for therapeutic rather than recreational purposes. … [O]ur results indicate that enough individuals are switching from OTC sleep aids to recreational cannabis that we can identify a statistically significant reduction in the market share growth of OTC sleep aids in conjunction with access to recreational cannabis using.”
Authors reported that the negative associations were driven by reduced sales of diphenhydramine (e.g., Benadryl)- and doxylamine-based sleep aids (e.g., Unisom) rather than herbal supplements like melatonin. Separate studies have similarly identified an association between cannabis access and the reduced use of various types of prescription medications, such as opioids and benzodiazepines.
Authors concluded: “Our results show that the market share growth for sleep aids shrank with the entry of recreational cannabis dispensaries … and the strength of the association increased with each subsequent dispensary. … Our results are consistent with evidence that legal access to medical cannabis is associated with reductions in Scheduled II-V prescription medications, many of which may be used in part as sleep aids.”
An abstract of the study, “Using recreational cannabis to treat insomnia: Evidence from over-the-counter sleep aid sales in Colorado,” appears online here.