While a number of clinical trials are currently underway to study the possible role cannabis may play in reducing opioid usage, Aleafia Health Inc. (TSXV: ALEF, OTC: ALEAF) just published a peer-reviewed study on lowering psychoactive drug usage through medical cannabis.

Aleafia operates more than 20 referral-only medical cannabis clinics across Canada, which provided the company access to patients to conduct the research.

45% of patients using benzodiazepines entirely stopped their medication within 6 months of beginning treatment with medical cannabis products.

Released through the peer-reviewed journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, the results of the study show medical cannabis led to decreased usage of benzodiazepines, which are commonly used in anti-anxiety and sedative treatments.

The study was authored by a team of pharmacologists and medical doctors, including Clinical Assistant Professor Dr. Nico Moolman from the University of Saskatchewan and Dr. Mark Taylor, who works as Head of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Dalhousie University.

Just shy of 150 patients were involved in the research through Aleafia’s Canabo Medical Clinics, and the study discovered that 45% of patients using benzodiazepines entirely stopped their medication within 6 months of beginning treatment with medical cannabis products.

That’s significant news in the battle against the opioid epidemic, as the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction has stated long-term usage of benzodiazepines increases opioid abuse chances and can lead to dependence.

Aleafia’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Verbora stated the data from the study will be used to develop new products and treatment methods. Verbora commented:

This study’s results will not be surprising to many patients who have transitioned from prescription pain killers and sedatives with the help of physician-led medical cannabis therapy. I thank the study authors for this significant contribution to evidence-based medicine.

Pharmacology Bachelor of Science Chad Purcell, lead author of the study, cautioned against seeing the results as an indicator to solely use cannabis versus traditional medical therapies.

Purcell added the data makes it clear that further studies should be enacted to develop treatment practices in conjunction with physicians in various medical fields, however.

In addition to releasing the results of this study, Aleafia has been making moves to create a larger network of clinics in Canada and internationally.

Just last month, the company acquired Emblem Corp. (TSXV: EMC) in a $173 million all-stock deal. Aleafia also recently acquired a 10% stake in Australian medical cannabis company CannaPacific.