Survey Finds 1 Out of 6 Americans Use Weed, Many for Medical Reasons

by | Cannabis Times


One in Six Primary Care Patients Admit to Using Marijuana, Study Finds

A recent survey conducted by researchers at the University of California Los Angeles revealed that one out of every six primary care patients reported using marijuana. What’s more, a third of these cannabis consumers were found to be at moderate or high risk of developing cannabis use disorder.

The study, published by JAMA Open Network, also uncovered that many of these individuals claimed to use marijuana for medicinal purposes, despite labeling their use as recreational. This raises concerns about the need for routine cannabis screenings in primary care settings.

“Patients may not disclose their cannabis use to their doctors, and their doctors may not inquire about it,” explains lead author Dr. Lillian Gelberg, a professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine and the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. “This missed opportunity for communication can impact the management of their symptoms.”

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommends Cannabis Screenings for Primary Care Patients

In 2020, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force advised primary care physicians to screen their adult patients for cannabis use and other substances. Building on this recommendation, the researchers behind the study launched a self-administered survey on cannabis use and medical cannabis use through UCLA Health’s universal electronic health record system.

Patients are asked to complete the survey via the online portal as part of the pre-visit screening process for primary care appointments. UCLA Health is one of the few healthcare systems that offer this voluntary cannabis use assessment.

The survey uses the WHO Alcohol Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) to evaluate cannabis use. The researchers then analyzed anonymized health record data from January 2021 to May 2023 to determine the prevalence of cannabis use, reasons for use, and other factors associated with cannabis consumption.

Results Show High Rates of Cannabis Use and Potential for Cannabis Use Disorder

Out of the 176,000 patients who completed the survey, nearly 30,000 (17%) reported using cannabis. Of these individuals, 35% were found to be at moderate or high risk of developing cannabis use disorder.

The study also revealed that 40% of cannabis users consumed weed once or twice in the past three months, 17% used it monthly, 25% used it weekly, and 19% used it daily or almost daily. Additionally, almost half (47%) of respondents reported using cannabis for medicinal purposes, such as managing mental health symptoms or stress.

These findings highlight the need for routine cannabis screenings in primary care settings to better understand and address patients’ cannabis use and potential risks.