Marijuana use among US adults with cancer: findings from the 2018-2019 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System

J Cancer Surviv. 2023 Aug;17(4):1161-1170. doi: 10.1007/s11764-021-01138-z. Epub 2022 Apr 9.


Purpose: This study aimed to assess the prevalence of current marijuana use and to identify the factors associated with its use among US adults with cancer living in 17 US states and territories.

Methods: Data from the 2018-2019 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Marijuana Use module were analyzed. The analytic sample included 13,174 adults with cancer. The primary outcome was current marijuana use. Weighted, multivariable logistic regression was used to identify sociodemographic, health, and healthcare factors associated with marijuana use.

Results: Overall, 9.2% of adult cancer survivors (n = 13,174; weighted 5.7 million) reported marijuana current use, 51.3% of whom used it for medical reasons only, with 65.2% reporting smoking as the main method of administration. Adult cancer survivors were significantly more likely to use marijuana if they were younger (odds ratio [OR] for 55-64 years old, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.38-0.93, vs. 18-44); male (OR for female, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.48-0.87, vs. male); non-Hispanic black (OR, 2.00; 95% CI, 1.21-3.33; P < 0.01, vs. non-Hispanic white); living with depression (OR, 1.58; 95% CI, 1.17-2.14); and current (OR, 3.23; 95% CI, 2.20-4.74) or former tobacco smoker (OR, 2.40; 95% CI, 1.70-3.38, vs. never smoker) and binge drinker (OR, 2.25; 95% CI, 1.53-3.29, vs. non-binge drinker).

Conclusions: Among a large cohort of US adults with cancer, marijuana use was commonly reported, and certain subgroups were at increased likelihood of marijuana use.

Implications for cancer survivors: Health professionals should identify the risk factors for marijuana use, especially as more states legalize medical and recreational marijuana use.

Keywords: Cancer survivorship; Cannabis; Marijuana; Symptom management.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
  • Cancer Survivors*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Use* / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology