Associations of recreational cannabis dispensaries' availability, storefront signage and health benefit signs with cannabis use: findings from a representative adult sample in California, United States

Addiction. 2023 Jan 21. doi: 10.1111/add.16132. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Background and aims: There are concerns that availability of recreational cannabis dispensaries (RCDs) and point-of-sale marketing may lead to increased cannabis use in jurisdictions where cannabis retail sale is legal. This paper examined whether the availability RCDs and the presence of storefront signage indicative of cannabis and signs promoting health benefits in RCDs were associated with cannabis use and risk perceptions.

Design: Cross-sectional, secondary data analysis.

Setting: California, USA.

Participants: A representative sample of 3385 adults in California who participated in the 2020 probability-based Marijuana Use and Environment Survey.

Measurements: Binary outcomes included past-month overall cannabis use, perceiving cannabis smoking as harmful and past-month cannabis use by purpose (medical only, recreational only and dual). The objectively assessed predictors included proximity and density of RCDs and presence of storefront signage indicative of cannabis and signs promoting health benefits in RCDs.

Findings: In terms of proximity, thepresence of storefront signage in the nearest RCD was associated with smaller odds of perceiving cannabis smoking as harmful [odds ratio (OR) = 0.63, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.39, 0.99] if the RCD was located within 2 miles of home. Presence of health benefit signs in the nearest RCD was associated with greater odds of overall cannabis use (OR = 2.45, 95% CI = 1.17, 5.16) and recreational use (OR = 3.50, 95% CI = 1.027, 11.91) if the RCD was located within 2-4 miles of home. In terms of density, count of RCDs, count of RCDs with storefront signage and count of RCDs with health benefit signs within 2 miles of home were each separately associated with greater odds of overall cannabis use and cannabis use for dual purposes.

Conclusions: The availability of recreational cannabis dispensaries within 2 miles of one's home and the presence of storefront signage indicating the availability of cannabis and signs promoting health benefits of cannabis appear to be associated with increased cannabis use and reduced risk perceptions among adults in California, USA.

Keywords: Cannabis use; density; neighborhood; point-of-sale marketing; proximity; recreational cannabis dispensary.