Marijuana really is the best medicine, as new research finds that the most people currently enrolled in medical marijuana programs are using weed as an alternative to dangerous substances like booze, prescription drugs, and other junkie favorites from the worldwide street apothecary.

A group of researchers from the United States and Canada recently published data in the October edition of Addiction Research and Theory that serves to evaluate just how much of an impact the insurgence of medical marijuana use over the past several years has had on the use of legal and illegal drugs.

What they found was that out of the 404 medical marijuana patients surveyed, nearly 68% said that they use marijuana as a substitute for prescription drugs, while over 41% admitted that weed has become a replacement for alcohol. What’s more is that just over 36% report that the availability of medical marijuana has become their safe haven away from other common street drugs.

The three primary reasons study participants gave for choosing marijuana over their past vices were “less withdrawal,” “fewer side effects,” and “better symptom management.” This finding leads researchers to believe that many patients are now fully aware that marijuana can fit into their medicated lives more effectively than a liver quivering prescription pill or booze regimen.

Interestingly, the survey indicates that the majority of the study participants -- 75.5% -- say they now use marijuana as a substitute for at least one other drug.

It concluded: "While some studies have found that a small percentage of the general population that uses cannabis may develop a dependence on this substance, a growing body of research on cannabis-related substitution suggests that for many patients cannabis is not only an effective medicine, but also a potential exit drug to problematic substance use. Given the credible biological, social and psychological mechanisms behind these results, and the associated potential to decrease personal suffering and the personal and social costs associated with addiction, further research appears to be justified on both economic and ethical grounds. Clinical trials with those who have had poor outcomes with conventional psychological or pharmacological addiction therapies could be a good starting point to further our understanding of cannabis-based substitution effect."

Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in HIGH TIMES, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73.