Immigrants, refugees and cannabis use

Int Rev Psychiatry. 2022 Feb;34(1):59-77. doi: 10.1080/09540261.2022.2039595. Epub 2022 May 3.


Immigration typically occurs from low- to high-income countries and regions. Unfortunately, these wealthier areas also have higher rates of cannabis use (e.g. European Union and the US). This systematic review aimed to summarize available studies on cannabis use among immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. In addition, evidence on the association between immigration and cannabis use was reviewed. The rates of cannabis use were lower among immigrants than natives. The risk and protective factors to cannabis use were quite similar to those of the native populations. The population at greatest risk for cannabis use were refugees, males, singles, non-religious, those with lower educational level, living in urban areas, with friends that use cannabis and/or other drugs. Cannabis use tend to increase over generations, and acculturation seems to play a pivotal role. First generation migrants report equal or lower consumption of cannabis when compared with the majority population with a subsequent increase in following generations, with a clear association with acculturation factors. A higher cannabis use was found among migrants with lower cultural congruity as well as a higher level of culture assimilation. This use seems to be unrelated to alcohol or illicit drugs consumption, but possibly associated with tobacco smoking.

Keywords: Immigrants; asylum seeker; cannabis; marijuana; refugee.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cannabis* / adverse effects
  • Emigrants and Immigrants*
  • Emigration and Immigration
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Refugees*
  • Transients and Migrants*