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Characteristics linked to the high-frequency of cannabis use in the US, new study

Study finds who are engaged in high-frequency cannabis use?

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This countrywide survey studied the sociodemographic factors (age, gender, race and ethnic origin, educational attainment, work status, and annual household income) linked with heavy cannabis use.

Although cannabis use has increased, there are few studies on frequent and everyday cannabis use among adults in the United States. Individuals who use more frequently may experience greater negative health effects.

Between 2002 and 2019, the prevalence of cannabis consumption climbed from 10.4 percent to 18.0 percent in the previous year, with daily or nearly daily use (300 or more days per year) increasing from 1.3 percent to 3.9 percent among US adults.

Despite the huge increase in cannabis usage over the past year, particularly daily or almost daily use, the distribution of use frequency (days per month) and the causes of higher-frequency use have not been well defined.

Evidence of cannabis’s negative mental and physical health impacts is growing. While the current evidence base is limited and contains only a few studies with a low risk of bias, certain research have linked cannabis usage to negative consequences such as respiratory problems (cough and sputum production), tachycardia, and some types of cancer.

Long-term cannabis use has been linked to memory problems, poor scholastic outcomes, suicide ideation leading to anxiety and depression and an increased risk of psychotic diseases.

Finally, current research reveals that one out of every five cannabis users has a cannabis use disorder.

Using the BRFSS survey, they looked at the frequency of usage distribution and characteristics related to higher frequency use and tried to understand the prevalence and frequency of cannabis use in various demographics or on the groups most likely to be affected by the negative health effects of use.

The survey found that 58 009 (27.9%) of the 387 179 respondents were between the ages of 18 and 34, 186 923 (50.3%) were between the ages of 35 and 64, and 142 225 (21.8%) were 65 or older (mean [SD] age, 48.3 [0.1] years). There were 28 345 (9.8%) Black respondents, 36 697 (22.6%) Hispanic respondents, and 292 210 (57.3%) White respondents in the sample.

The most popular way of cannabis use was smoking. Age, gender, race, marital status, education, and occupation all had a substantial impact on cannabis consumption.

Higher frequency cannabis use was linked to younger age (ages 18-34 years: adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 4.12; 95% CI, 3.63-4.68; ages 35-64 years: aOR, 2.22; 95% CI, 1.98-2.49), Black (aOR, 1.46; 95% CI, 1.33-1.71) and Native American (aOR, 1.25; 95% CI, 1.04-1.52) race, and less educational attainment (high school or less: aOR, 1.09; 95% CI, 1.02-1.17; some college: aOR, 1.27; 95% CI, 1.19-1.35).

Being married (aOR, 0.54; 95% CI, 0.51-0.58) or identifying as Asian (aOR, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.51-0.71) or Hispanic (aOR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.65-0.77) was associated with lower-frequency cannabis use after accounting for other baseline factors.

The paper concludes that frequent cannabis use is more prevalent among young people and members of racial minority groups, as well as individuals with poor socioeconomic levels. Given the known and emerging detrimental health consequences of cannabis use, increased attention to high-frequency use among marginalized communities through screening, risk stratification, and treatment may be necessary.

Source: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.36571

Image Credit: iStock

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