Psychiatry and Clinical Psychopharmacology

Factors Associated with Problematic Cannabis Use in a Sample of Medical Cannabis Dispensary Users


Department of Psychology, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada


University of British Columbia, Faculty of Medicine, Vancouver, Canada


Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada


Department of Anesthesiology, Pharmacology & Therapeutics, University of British Columbia, Faculty of Medicine, Vancouver, Canada


Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Faculty of Medicine, Vancouver, Canada


British Columbia Mental Health and Substance Use Services Research Institute, Vancouver, Canada

Psychiatry and Clinical Psychopharmacology 2022; 32: 262-267
DOI: 10.5152/pcp.2022.22358
Read: 2139 Downloads: 683 Published: 01 September 2022

Background: With the recent legalization of cannabis for medical purposes in many countries, there has been an increased number of individuals using such products. While there is considerable evidence indicating that cannabis may have therapeutic effects for a range of different conditions, concerns remain about the risk of developing cannabis use disorders for those at risk, or patients without appropriate clinical guidance. The aim of the present study was to determine the prevalence of problematic cannabis use in a cohort of cannabis users who consumed the drug for medical purposes and to identify potential risk factors.

Methods: One hundred individuals who self-identified as using cannabis to improve their mental health were recruited from a community dispensary. Extensive details were collected about subjects’ patterns of cannabis use and reasons for use. All subjects completed a structured clinical interview with the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview, while information about perceived stress, depressive symptoms, and somatic symptoms were recorded with the Perceived Stress Scale-10, Beck Depression Inventory, and the Patient Health Questionnaire-15.

Results: Rates of problematic cannabis use were high, with 30% meeting the criteria. Only 10% of subjects reported medical cannabis use was recommended by their doctor. Significant risk factors for problematic use included earlier age of cannabis initiation, as well as self-reported use of cannabis products for depression.

Conclusions: The prevalence of problematic cannabis use in the community dispensary was higher than expected. Specific risk factors for problematic cannabis use may represent important areas for future intervention to ensure safer consumption for medical purposes.

Cite this article as: Lo LA, MacCallum CA, Yau JC, Panenka WJ, Barr AM. Factors associated with problematic cannabis use in a sample of medical cannabis dispensary users. Psychiatry Clin Psychopharmacol. 2022;32(3):262-267.

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