Are Younger Medical Cannabis Users at Risk? Comparing Patterns of Use and Mental Health in Younger and Older Medical Cannabis Dispensary Users

Lindsay A. Lo, Caroline A. MacCallum, Jade C. Yau, William J. Panenka, Alasdair M. Barr


While there has been a considerable amount of research on recreational cannabis use in youth to date, much less is known about patterns of medical cannabis use in youth. Adult medical versus recreational cannabis users may differ in how they use the product on important factors such as dose, frequency and route of ingestion, and so it is important to understand whether adolescents and young adults differ in how they use medical cannabis compared to adults, and if this increases risk of impaired mental health. In the present study, one hundred members of a community cannabis dispensary who endorsed cannabis use for medical purposes were assessed for major psychiatric disorders, and completed questionnaires related to stress, depression, sleep and somatic symptoms. Detailed information about cannabis use was collected. In the sample, 35% were aged 19-24 years old, and 24% were aged 25-30 (categorized as youth/young adults). In comparison to the older medical cannabis users, there were unexpectedly few differences, both in mental health status as well as pattern of medical cannabis use. These findings contrast with those of recreational cannabis users, and indicate that medical cannabis in youth may be as effective and well-tolerated as in older adults.

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Copyright (c) 2023 Lindsay A. Lo, Caroline A. MacCallum, Jade C. Yau, William J. Panenka, Alasdair M. Barr

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