Marijuana practices and patterns of use among young adult medical marijuana patients and non-patient marijuana users

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2017 Jan 1:170:181-188. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2016.10.025. Epub 2016 Oct 26.


Background: Little is known about young adult medical marijuana patients (MMP) and their marijuana using patterns and practices, which includes frequency of use, sourcing of marijuana products, forms/modes of administration, and patterns of illicit/prescription drug misuse, compared to non-patient marijuana users (NPU).

Methods: Young adults (N=366) aged 18-26 years old were sampled in Los Angeles in 2014-15 and segmented into NPU (n=156), marijuana users who never had a medical marijuana (MM) recommendation, and MMP (n=210), marijuana users with a current, verified MM recommendation. Differences regarding self-reported marijuana and other drug use during the past 90days are expressed as unadjusted risk ratios or differences in means.

Results: MMP reported significantly greater mean days of use (76.4 vs. 59.2, p<0.001) and mean dollars spent on marijuana products (564.5 vs. 266.9, p<0.001) than NPU. Approximately one-quarter (22.6%) of both MMP and NPU report selling marijuana obtained from a dispensary to someone else in the past 90days. MMP were more likely to report vaporization modalities for concentrates (URR=1.5, 95% C.I.=1.2, 2.0) and for marijuana (URR=1.5, 95% C.I.=1.1, 2.1) than NPU. Though not significant, trends toward lower misuse of prescription drugs in the past 90days were observed among MMP compared to NPU.

Conclusion: MMP reported greater access to marijuana via dispensaries, more frequent and intensive use of marijuana, and greater use of non-combustible forms of marijuana compared to NPU. MMP reported less recent misuse of prescription drugs compared to NPU.

Keywords: Drug use; Medical marijuana; Young adults.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cannabis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Los Angeles
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking / psychology*
  • Medical Marijuana*
  • Prescription Drug Misuse / psychology
  • Young Adult


  • Medical Marijuana