Insomniacs are using marijuana over sleep aids in legal states, study finds

Person laying under covers of bed with pillow on head.

Despite the lack of clinical evidence, people from legal states are turning to cannabis instead of over-the-counter sleep medications, new research suggests.

In a study published in the medical journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine, researchers from the University of New Mexico and California State Polytechnic University observed retail scanner data collected by the Nielsen Company from nearly 600 stores, including the market shares of top sleep aids such as melatonin and pharmaceuticals such as diphenhydramine.

According to the results, the market share for sleep aids remained stable prior to the opening of a dispensary. After one did however remain open, the market share declined with each month of its existence.

“Our results show that the market share growth for sleep aids shrank with the entry of recreational cannabis dispensaries by more than 200% relative to the mean market share growth in our sample, and the strength of the association increased with each subsequent dispensary,” the researchers concluded.

“In particular, cannabis appears to compete favorably with OTC sleep aids, especially those containing diphenhydramine and doxylamine, which constitute 87.4% of the market for OTC sleep aids,” they added.

There isn’t any concrete evidence that medical cannabis works better than sleeping medication, but the sheer majority of dispensary patients seem to think so.

“For the first time, we show a statistically significant negative association between recreational access to cannabis and OTC sleep aid sales,” the authors added, “suggesting that at least some recreational purchasers are using cannabis for therapeutic rather than recreational purposes.”

Lack of rest has rapidly become a major health concern, as sleepless citizens have spent a reported $41 billion per year on pharmaceutical sleep products.

Despite the surge of using marijuana over sleeping pills, insomnia is not a specific qualifying condition in any U.S. state with legal access to medical marijuana.

Oscar Pascual is the editor of Smell the Truth, syndicated on GreenState and SFGATE. Smell The Truth is one of the internet’s most popular destinations for cannabis-related news and culture. This blog is not written or edited by Hearst. The authors are solely responsible for the content.