Self-reported cannabis use characteristics, patterns and helpfulness among medical cannabis users

Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2014 Jan;40(1):23-30. doi: 10.3109/00952990.2013.821477. Epub 2013 Nov 8.


Objectives: Little research has investigated the demographic and symptom profile of medical cannabis users in states in the USA that have legalized cannabis use.

Methods: In the present cross-sectional study, we investigated the demographic profile of 217 adults currently receiving medical cannabis, as well as differences in problematic use and perceived helpfulness in terms of (i) symptoms of psychological disorders and pain, and (ii) motives for use.

Results: Findings indicated that medical cannabis users (i) use and perceive cannabis to be beneficial for multiple conditions, some for which cannabis is not specifically prescribed or allowed at the state level; and (ii) report similar rates of disordered use as compared with population estimates among regular users. Furthermore, problematic cannabis use was predicted by several symptoms of psychological disorders (e.g. depression) and a variety of use motives (e.g. coping), while cannabis was reported as particularly helpful among those with several psychological symptoms (e.g. traumatic intrusions), as well as those reporting use for social anxiety reasons.

Conclusions: Results are discussed in terms of future directions for research given the current debates regarding legalization of cannabis for medical purposes and, more generally, the lack of empirical data to inform such debates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / drug effects
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • California / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Abuse / epidemiology*
  • Marijuana Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Medical Marijuana / administration & dosage*
  • Medical Marijuana / adverse effects
  • Medical Marijuana / therapeutic use*
  • Mental Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Self Report*


  • Medical Marijuana