Cannabidiol (CBD) and other drug use among young adults who use cannabis in Los Angeles

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2021 Apr 1;221:108648. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2021.108648. Epub 2021 Feb 22.


Introduction: Cannabidiol (CBD) is purportedly a promising therapeutic agent to provide relief for a variety of medical conditions with mild or no psychoactive effects. However, little is known about young adults who use cannabis and CBD-dominant products, and associations between CBD use and other drug use.

Methods: Young adults (aged 24-32) who currently used cannabis (n = 239) were surveyed in Los Angeles in March 2019 through March 2020. The sample was divided into CBD-dominant (at least 1:1 CBD:THC ratio) and THC-dominant product users. We described CBD forms, reasons and conditions for CBD use and examined between-group differences in sociodemographic characteristics, cannabis practices, health and other drug use.

Results: CBD-dominant users were more likely to be female, use cannabis at lower frequency and amount (except for edible/drinkable/oral products), self-report medical motivation for cannabis use, use cannabis for pain and report more health problems. Oil, flower, topicals and sprays/drops/tinctures were the most prevalent CBD forms. Psychological problems and pain were commonly reported conditions and medical reasons for CBD use. CBD-dominant users were more likely to report illicit drug use, where psilocybin use was markedly different between the two groups.

Conclusions: CBD use was associated with health histories and motivations linked to pain and psychological problems. Positive association between CBD use and illicit drug use may indicate self-medication for psychological conditions. Future studies should evaluate the effectiveness of various CBD forms and dose regimens for treatment of pain and psychological problems, and as a potential intervention for decreasing other drug use and associated harms.

Keywords: Cannabidiol; Drug use; Medical marijuana; Young adults.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cannabidiol / administration & dosage*
  • Cannabidiol / adverse effects
  • Cannabis / adverse effects
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dronabinol / administration & dosage
  • Dronabinol / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Hallucinogens / administration & dosage*
  • Hallucinogens / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Los Angeles / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Marijuana Use / epidemiology*
  • Marijuana Use / psychology*
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Pain / psychology
  • Self Report
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Young Adult


  • Hallucinogens
  • Cannabidiol
  • Dronabinol