Twice As Many Americans Use Marijuana For Medical Reasons Than For Recreation

The percentage of American adults who use marijuana for medical purposes is more than double the percentage who use it for recreational purposes, a new study has found.

The numbers show that Americans are turning to cannabis in increasing numbers for health and wellbeing. The study authors wrote that this is the first study to look at the frequency of marijuana use among adults with medical conditions.

The research was conducted by Dr. Hongying Dai with the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Dr. Kimber P. Richter with the Department of Population Health at the University of Kansas Medical Center. The two published their findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The doctors found medical use of marijuana was highest among those with respiratory conditions, cancer, and depression.

Key Findings Of The Study

The two doctors started their research to answer the question: “What are the prevalence and patterns of marijuana use among adults with medical conditions?” They used data from 169, 036 participants in 2016 and 2017.

They found that 46% of adult marijuana users reported using cannabis for medical treatment, while 22% said they use marijuana for recreational purposes.

When comparing those with medical conditions who use marijuana compared to those without medical conditions who use marijuana, the study found that adults with medical conditions:

  • Used marijuana daily at a “significantly higher prevalence”
  • Were more likely to report using marijuana for medical reasons
  • Were less likely to report using marijuana for recreational purposes.

They also found that 25.2% of those aged 18 to 24 reported using marijuana currently, and 11.2% of those young adults with medical conditions reported using marijuana daily. However, that number steadily decreases as the participants get older.

“At present, marijuana use prevalence decreases with age, even among people with medical conditions,” they wrote.

Medical Marijuana and the Medical Community

The doctors conclude that the findings show there is a need for the medical community to engage with patients about medical marijuana and how to get the most positive impact of using it.

They wrote: “Clinicians should screen for marijuana use among patients, understand why and how patients are using marijuana, and work with patients to optimize outcomes and reduce marijuana-associated risks.”

They also wrote that policymakers should understand how Americans are using marijuana and work to ensure that people “understand the evolving knowledge base regarding the risks and benefits of marijuana consumption.”

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