According to a new study, those who use marijuana for therapeutic purposes are more likely to report consuming it to address symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain and depression. The study, titled Medical reasons for marijuana use, forms of use, and patient perception of physician attitudes among the US population,” was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine and first reported on by NORML.
For the study researchers examined responses from a nationally represented online sample of adults. “Among those who acknowledged using cannabis for medical purposes, 49 percent reported doing so to treat anxiety. Forty-seven percent of respondents said that they used cannabis for insomnia, 42 percent said that they did so to treat chronic pain, and 39 percent said that cannabis eased their depression.”
The most preferred method of consumption was through inhalation, “Women, more frequently than men, reported using cannabis to address symptoms of post-traumatic stress, insomnia, anxiety, and migraines. Men were more likely to report using cannabis as a mood stabilizer.”
Of those respondents who had disclosed their medical cannabis use to their primary care physician, nearly half said that their doctor was supportive of their decision.
The full abstract of the study can be found below:
The use of marijuana for medical purposes is increasing in parallel with expanding legalization and decreased public perception of harm. Despite this increase in use, it is unclear which medical conditions patients are attempting to treat with marijuana and whether they are communicating with medical providers about their use.
To understand the medical reasons for marijuana use, forms of marijuana used for medical purposes, and disclosure of use to physicians.
National, probability-based online survey.
The USA, 2017.
16,280 US adults.
Proportion of US adults who agreed with a statement.
A total of 9003 participants completed the survey (55% response rate). Five hundred ninety-one (7% of US adults) reported using marijuana for medical purposes. The most common medical reasons for marijuana use were anxiety (49%), insomnia (47%), chronic pain (42%), and depression (39%). The most common forms of use for all medical conditions were smoking and edibles, followed by vaping, concentrate, and topical. We found women were more likely to use marijuana for posttraumatic stress disorder, sleep, anxiety, and migraines. We did not find substantial variation in medical reasons for marijuana use by race. Among those using marijuana for medical purposes, 21% did not have a doctor. Among those with doctors, 33% did not inform them, 28% reported their doctor was neutral on their use, 32% reported their doctor was supportive, and 8% reported their doctor was not supportive. Those who lived in states where medical marijuana was illegal were less likely to disclose use to their doctor.
The online format of the survey may have caused selection bias. Wording of the questions may have affected interpretation. Doctors were not queried directly, rather participants were asked about their perception of doctor attitudes.
Americans are using marijuana to treat medical conditions despite lack of evidence of efficacy.
The list of researchers involved in the study can be found below:
- Northern California Institute for Education and Research, San Francisco VA Medical Center, San Francisco, CA, USA.
- Department of Medicine, UCSF Division of General Internal Medicine, San Francisco VA Medical Center, San Francisco, CA, USA.
- San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco, CA, USA.
- Department of Internal Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA.
- Department of Medicine, UCSF Division of Nephrology, San Francisco VA Medical Center, San Francisco, CA, USA.
- Department of Nephrology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA.
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