Objectives: The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship of marijuana use to mortality.
Methods: The study population comprised 65171 Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program enrollees, aged 15 through 49 years, who completed questionnaires about smoking habits, including marijuana use, between 1979 and 1985. Mortality follow-up was conducted through 1991.
Results: Compared with nonuse or experimentation (lifetime use six or fewer times), current marijuana use was not associated with a significantly increased risk of non-acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) mortality in men (relative risk [RR] = 1.12, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.89, 1.39) or of total mortality in women (RR = 1.09, 95% CI = 0.80, 1.48). Current marijuana use was associated with increased risk of AIDS mortality in men (RR = 1.90, 95% CI = 1.33, 2.73), an association that probably was not causal but most likely represented uncontrolled confounding by male homosexual behavior. This interpretation was supported by the lack of association of marijuana use with AIDS mortality in men from a Kaiser Permanente AIDS database. Relative risks for ever use of marijuana were similar.
Conclusions: Marijuana use in a prepaid health care-based study cohort had little effect on non-AIDS mortality in men and on total mortality in women.