Pelago Introduces Cannabis Use Disorder Treatment Program

Press Release

First nationwide digital cannabis use treatment program introduced at critical inflection point of increasing cannabis use with decreasing treatment

New York, April 23, 2024Pelago, the leading digital clinic partner to U.S. businesses and health plans for substance use management, has announced the addition of cannabis to its specialized substance use disorder (SUD) treatments. The new program, which will be fully implemented by Q3 2024, expands Pelago’s digital substance use treatment solutions that currently include support for tobacco, alcohol and opioids.

“We’re at an important inflection point in the U.S., with cannabis use disorders on the rise as treatment simultaneously declines,” said Pelago CEO and Co-Founder Yusuf Sherwani, M.D. “This marks an important addition to our dedicated substance use management offering as we work to provide employers and health plans with specialized care for cannabis use and other disorders for improved health outcomes.”

The program launch follows Pelago’s recent $58 Million funding round and marks the first large-scale digital cannabis use treatment program in the nation. Immediately following the Series C fundraise, Pelago launched its contingency management program and is now adding cannabis use disorder (CUD) treatment to help employers and health plans address rising rates and costs of substance use.

Nearly 18 million U.S. adults suffer from CUD, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. That translates into more than 8 million in the workforce with CUD. And yet, in states with legalized cannabis (medical + recreational), only 1.8% of those that needed treatment received specialized CUD care, down nearly 30% from the prior 10 years.

Pelago’s new program is aimed at addressing this widening gap by educating and taking an informed use approach to cannabis, while offering access to specialized, evidence-based care for individuals struggling with CUD.

“Cannabis use disorder is such a challenging but important problem to address using a clinically sound and scientifically informed approach,” said Pelago Chief Scientific Officer Suzette Glasner, Ph.D. “People use cannabis for a variety of reasons, including perceived health benefits and for recreation. We want to be able to help them understand how it’s affecting their health and raise their awareness of their relationship with cannabis, including signs of loss of control, which is the hallmark of a substance use disorder. By empowering individuals who use cannabis with this knowledge, we will help reduce the harms associated with cannabis use disorder and improve overall wellness.”

Twenty four states have legalized cannabis for recreational use, and cannabis consumers can use cannabis more openly than ever before. However, with increased use has come increased use disorders. With the recent 420 (April 20) celebration of cannabis culture, educating and informing cannabis consumers on the potential harms of cannabis use is more important than ever.

Cannabis now makes up 72% of all illicit drug use among adults, an increase of 3% (from 70%) the year before. While SAMHSA reports that SUD for drugs and alcohol has increased 4.7% from 2021 to 2022, cannabis use disorder has increased 15.4%.

For those who develop an addiction to cannabis, there is a risk of experiencing a withdrawal syndrome, with many of the withdrawal symptoms overlapping with symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders.1 Among adolescents, cannabis use has increased by 4%, and now makes up 69% of all illicit drug use among adolescents. Pelago’s cannabis program will also support adolescents aged 15-17 years old, focused more on abstinence-based goals given research indicating the negative impacts of cannabis on neurological and cognitive development, as well as the increased likelihood of developing SUDs over the lifecourse.1

Clinical trials conducted over the last 30 years support three primary approaches to treating CUD: 1) cognitive behavioral therapy; 2) motivational enhancement therapy/interviewing, and 3) contingency management. Pelago’s cannabis program is leveraging the first two approaches at launch, along with other key program elements, including physician-led care, personalized CBT, and complex condition management, and will evolve its contingency management program to include cannabis later in 2024.

For more information about Pelago’s cannabis use disorder treatment program and its existing suite of substance use management solutions, visit or contact a member of our team.


1. From Suzette Glasner’s forthcoming book “Addiction: What Everyone Needs to Know” (Oxford University Press, July 2024, available for pre-order).

About Pelago

Pelago partners with enterprises as the leading virtual clinic for substance use management among their employees. We are transforming substance use support – from prevention to treatment – delivering education, management skills, and opportunities for positive change to members struggling with substance use, most commonly tobacco, alcohol, opioids or cannabis. Our solution gives employers the means to offer on-demand, personalized support to workers seeking to live healthier lives. Pelago’s cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs deliver convenient, accessible and effective support that seamlessly integrates with health plans, pharmacy benefit managers and wellness platforms. Tens of thousands of members enroll in the Pelago program each year, and more than 3.4 million now have access to the digital clinic.

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