Who is using cannabis as a medicine and why: an exploratory study

J Psychoactive Drugs. 2000 Oct-Dec;32(4):435-43. doi: 10.1080/02791072.2000.10400245.


This article reports on an exploratory study of medical cannabis users. Interviews were completed with 50 self-identified medical cannabis users recruited through notices in newspapers and on bulletin boards. They reported using cannabis for a variety of conditions including HIV-AIDS-related problems, chronic pain, depression, anxiety, menstrual cramps, migraine, narcotic addiction as well as everyday aches, pains, stresses and sleeping difficulties. A majority also used cannabis for recreational purposes, and many were longer-term cannabis users. However, there were some notable exceptions. Almost all smoked cannabis and many did so two to three times a day. Few admitted negative experiences with cannabis, although some problems evident to the researchers were not clearly admitted. Those who told their doctors about their medical cannabis use found doctors noncommittal or supportive. The results raise questions about the definition of medical cannabis use and about policies that might be developed to accommodate such use. Limitations of the study are noted and further research suggested. Research priorities include population surveys, studies involving larger, more representative samples of medical cannabis users and studies of medical cannabis use among people with HIV-AIDS.

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Adult
  • Cannabis*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Data Collection / methods
  • HIV*
  • Humans
  • Marijuana Smoking* / psychology
  • Mental Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Self Medication* / methods
  • Self Medication* / psychology