Recently, the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs published a study concerning the average medical marijuana patient. The study observed nine clinics in California and collected data on a pool of 1,746 patients in order to draw statistics on the medical marijuana community. If you’re expecting the results to be surprising, then you probably haven’t been paying any attention to this movement.

According to the study, the average cannabis patient is a male–73% of the sample group was male–between the ages of 25 and 44. He’s likely to be black or Native American, and his stated reason for medicating with cannabis is the ever-generic “pain.” The results list a number of patients’ other uses for medical cannabis. The rest of the top five included sleep aid, relaxation, muscle spasms, and headaches. 51% of the sample group also claimed to use cannabis as a substitute for pharmaceuticals.

Let’s bear in mind here that people who are against medical marijuana already think it’s for people who just want to get baked legally. More than half of the patients said they use cannabis to relax. Can you really get a recommendation for that? Lots of people use other totally legal things to relax, and plenty of these are not prescription drugs: television, music and books to relax. Where can I get my prescription for a medicinal Louis Landon CD?

Now, I’m not saying that pot isn’t good for relaxation–quite the opposite, it’s perfect for relaxing with. But don’t forget that we’re trying to convince people who think that cannabis has absolutely no medicinal use, despite heaps of evidence to the contrary, that it should be legal for medical purposes. Are we seriously suggesting that thousands of patients across fifteen states need legal weed to relax?

Well, let’s try not to get too stressed out here, or we might all have to toke up before the end of this post. The study did have one figure that helps confirm something cannabis users have been saying for ages: medical marijuana patients exhibit significantly lower alcohol and cocaine use than the average population. Now if we can only convince people–who don’t pay attention to evidence–that cannabis is less dangerous than either of those substances, we’ll be made for 2012.

I want to hear from you, folks. Colorado patients, why do you use medical marijuana? Are you more like the average patient, or do you defy stereotypes? Share your story in the comment section.

Austin Wulf is a freelance writer and cannabis advocate who, for the record, knows that pain relief and stress reduction are pretty common and legitimate uses for medical marijuana. Read more of his observations on the pro-cannabis movement here.