Many advances have been made toward understanding the benefits of medical cannabis. However, less is known about medical cannabis patients themselves. Prior research has uncovered many important patient characteristics, but most of that work has been conducted with participants in California, who may not represent medical cannabis patients throughout the United States. Furthermore, it is unknown if medical cannabis legalization, which typically imposes strict regulations on cannabis cultivation and sale, impacts patients' experiences acquiring and using cannabis. The goal of this study was to address these limitations by (1) examining the characteristics, perceptions, and behaviors of medical cannabis patients in Arizona; and (2) questioning participants with a history of cannabis use regarding their experiences with cannabis before and after legalization. Patients in Arizona share many characteristics with those in California, but also key differences, such as average age and degree of cannabis consumption. Participants also had positive perceptions of the effect of medical cannabis legalization, reporting that feelings of safety and awareness were higher after legalization compared to before. The results are discussed in relation to evidence from patients in other states and in terms of their potential policy implications.
Keywords: Arizona; medical cannabis; medical cannabis legalization; patient characteristics; perceptions.