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High Rates of Cannabis Use Found Among Primary Care Patients

by Marijuana Staff

A new study from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) found high rates of cannabis use among primary care patients. The cross-sectional study analysed electronic health record data from over 175,000 adult patients seen at UCLA primary care clinics between January 2021 and May 2023.

The researchers found that 17% of patients reported using cannabis in the past 3 months.

Cannabis use was highest among younger patients, with 31% of those aged 18-29 reporting recent use compared to only 8.5% of those 60 and older. Use was also more common in males than females (20% vs 14.7%).

While only 15.6% of cannabis users identified as using it strictly for medical reasons, over 75% reported using cannabis to manage symptoms like pain, stress, sleep issues, and mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. On average, cannabis users tried to manage 2 different symptoms with cannabis, but those at moderate/high risk for cannabis use disorder tried to manage 4 symptoms on average.

The most common modes of cannabis use were edibles (61.6% of users), smoking (51.7%), and vaporising (29%). Ingesting cannabis through edibles or beverages risks acute intoxication and difficulty dosing compared to inhalation methods.

The researchers call for clinicians to ask patients specifically what symptoms they are using cannabis for, rather than relying on patients to self-identify as recreational or medical users. They note there is little evidence to guide clinicians on advising patients about using cannabis for symptom management.

In an era of increasing cannabis legalisation and potency, this large study illuminates the urgent need for healthcare systems to identify and assist patients who use cannabis to deal with health issues.

Study - https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2819559

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