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Ozempic, Wegovy Linked to Reduced Risk of Cannabis Use Disorder

Semaglutide — the type 2 diabetes and anti-obesity ingredient in popular drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy — may reduce the risk of both developing and redeveloping cannabis use disorder, according to a new study.

More than 45 million people consume cannabis in the United States, one-third of whom suffer from a cannabis use disorder (CUD), but new research has found that semaglutide may be effective at reducing the incidence and recurrence of CUD.

Patients treated with semaglutide, a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1RA) approved for treating type 2 diabetes and for weight management, have reported a reduced desire to drink and smoke. Preclinical studies have also shown that semaglutide decreased nicotine and alcohol consumption.

And despite the high prevalence of CUD — defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as being unable to stop using marijuana even though it’s causing health and social problems — there are currently no FDA-approved medications to treat it.

As a result, researchers set out to determine whether semaglutide could have a similar effect on cannabis consumption habits as alcohol and smoking. Their findings, published in Nature, provide preliminary evidence of the potential benefit of semaglutide for CUD.

The researchers conducted the retrospective cohort study of electronic health records from the TriNetX Analytics Network, a global federated health research network of approximately 105.3 million patients from 61 large healthcare organizations in the U.S.

The study population consisted of 85,223 patients with obesity who were prescribed semaglutide or non-GLP-1RA anti-obesity medications, and the findings were validated in 596,045 patients with type 2 diabetes.

Patients with obesity and no prior history of CUD who were prescribed semaglutide were found to have a lower risk of developing CUD compared with those who were given non-GLP-1RA anti-obesity medications (0.28% vs. 0.48%).

An even more significant reduced risk was observed for recurrent CUD diagnosis in patients with a prior history: 13.0% vs. 20.4%. These reductions were consistent across all genders, age groups, races, and in patients with and without T2D.

Similar findings were replicated in the study population with T2D when comparing semaglutide with non-GLP-1RA anti-diabetes medications for incident CUD and recurrent CUD.

“Our results show that semaglutide was associated with a lower risk for both incident and relapse of CUD compared to non-GLP-1 RA anti-obesity and anti-diabetes medications,” the authors wrote. “While these findings provide preliminary evidence of the potential benefit of semaglutide in CUD in real-world populations, further preclinical studies are warranted to understand the underlying mechanism and randomized clinical trials are needed to support its use clinically for CUD.”


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