Psychiatry and Clinical Psychopharmacology

Meaningfully Characterizing Cannabis Use for Research and Clinical Settings: A Comprehensive Review of Existing Measures and Proposed Future Directions


Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Colorado Boulder, Colorado, USA


Institute of Cognitive Science, University of Colorado Boulder, Colorado, USA

Psychiatry and Clinical Psychopharmacology 2024; 34: 82-93
DOI: 10.5152/pcp.2024.23645
Read: 124 Downloads: 55 Published: 06 February 2024

Cannabis use is increasingly common. There is a need for validated tools to meaningfully assess recreational, medical, and disordered cannabis use in both research and clinical contexts. Cannabis assessments were considered against pre-determined inclusion criteria within a comprehensive review. Measures were categorized as either (i) evaluating use frequency or quantity, (ii) measuring symptoms of disordered use and withdrawal, or (iii) assessing use motives, effects, and perceptions. The applications and validations for each assessment are summarized. Finally, recommendations for refining of existing measures or development of new measures are presented. The literature review resulted in 289 publications that were reviewed in detail, yielding 21 assessments that met inclusion criteria. The applications of these assessments are described here, in addition to the information about the validation studies of each assessment. Based on the complication of these tools, 5 areas of potential development are highlighted to guide future research, including (i) sensitivity to the mode of cannabis administration as well as sensitivity to (ii) potency of cannabis products alongside frequency and quantity, (iii) unit equivalence, (iv) aligning clinical measures consistently with cannabis use disorder (CUD) diagnostic criteria, and (v) creating measures specific to medical users, their motives for use, and their perceptions of therapeutic benefits or side effects. Clinicians and researchers can pragmatically benefit from this summary of validated measures of cannabis use, and future work could improve the study of and clinical care for cannabis use and CUD by pursuing one or more key areas of development described here.

Cite this article as: Martin-Willett R, Elmore JS, Phillips PX, Cinnamon Bidwell L. Meaningfully characterizing cannabis use for research and clinical settings: A comprehensive review of existing measures and proposed future directions. Psychiatry Clin Psychopharmacol. 2024;34(1):82-93.

EISSN 2475-0581