Profiles of medicinal cannabis patients attending compassion centers in rhode island

J Psychoactive Drugs. Jan-Mar 2015;47(1):18-23. doi: 10.1080/02791072.2014.999901.


Little is understood regarding medicinal marijuana dispensary users. We sought to characterize socio-demographics and reasons for medicinal marijuana use among medical cannabis dispensary patients in Rhode Island. Participants (n=200) were recruited from one of two Compassion Centers in Rhode Island and asked to participate in a short survey, which included assessment of pain interference using the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI). The majority of participants were male (73%), Caucasian (80%), college educated (68%), and had health insurance (89%). The most common reason for medicinal marijuana use was determined to be chronic pain management. Participants were more likely to have BPI pain interference scores of > 5 if they were older (OR: 1.36, 95% CI: 1.04-1.78) or reported using cannabis as a substitute for prescription medications (OR: 2.47, 95% CI: 1.23-4.95), and were less likely to have interference scores of >5 if they had higher income levels (OR: 0.53, 95% CI: 0.40-0.70) or reported having ever received treatment for an alcohol use disorder. One-fifth of participants had a history of a drug or alcohol use disorder. Most participants report that medicinal cannabis improves their pain symptomology, and are interested in alternative treatment options to opioid-based treatment regimens.

Keywords: Compassion Center; Rhode Island; cannabis; chronic pain.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Community Health Centers / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Marijuana / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Management / methods
  • Pain Management / statistics & numerical data
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Pain* / diagnosis
  • Pain* / drug therapy
  • Pain* / epidemiology
  • Rhode Island / epidemiology
  • Self Report
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology


  • Medical Marijuana