Cannabis use disorder and male sex predict medical cannabis card status in a sample of high risk adolescents

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2018 Feb 1;183:25-33. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.11.007. Epub 2017 Dec 2.


Objective: To examine if a substance use disorder (SUD), especially cannabis use disorder in adolescence, predicts future medical cannabis card status among high-risk youth.

Methods: Data collection occurred in Denver and San Diego. We recruited adolescents, with or at high risk for SUD and conduct problems (hereafter probands) and their siblings (n=654). Baseline (Wave 1) assessments took place between 1999 and 2008, and follow-up (Wave 2) took place between 2010 and 2013. In initial bivariate analyses, we examined whether baseline DSM-IV cannabis abuse/dependence (along with other potential predictors) was associated with possessing a medical cannabis card in young adulthood (Wave 2). Significant predictors were then included in a multiple binomial regression. Self-reported general physical health was also evaluated at both time points. Finally, within Wave 2, we tested whether card status was associated with concurrent substance dependence.

Results: About 16% of the sample self-reported having a medical cannabis card at follow-up. Though bivariate analyses demonstrated that multiple predictors were significantly associated with Wave 2 card status, in our multiple binomial regression only cannabis abuse/dependence and male sex remained significant. At Wave 2, those with a medical cannabis card were significantly more likely to endorse criteria for concurrent cannabis dependence. There was no significant difference in self-reported general physical health.

Conclusions: Cannabis abuse/dependence and male sex positively predicted future medical cannabis card holder status among a sample of high risk adolescents. Physicians conducting evaluations for medical cannabis cards should carefully evaluate and consider past and concurrent cannabis addiction.

Keywords: Adolescents; Marijuana; Medical marijuana; Substance use disorder.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • California / epidemiology
  • Colorado / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Abuse / epidemiology*
  • Medical Marijuana*
  • Sex Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*


  • Medical Marijuana