Survey Finds 1 Out of 6 Individuals Use Weed, Many for Medical Causes


One out of six main care sufferers mentioned they used marijuana in a survey of hashish use, with many saying their use was primarily for medical causes. The examine by researchers on the College of California Los Angeles additionally discovered {that a} third of hashish customers reported weed at ranges that put them at average or excessive danger of hashish use dysfunction.

The research, which was revealed by JAMA Open Community on Wednesday, means that many hashish customers use the drug for medicinal functions, regardless of characterizing their use as leisure. The researchers behind the examine say the findings point out a necessity for routine hashish screenings of main care sufferers. At present, few healthcare techniques supply screenings for hashish use within the main care setting.

“Sufferers could not inform their main care suppliers about their hashish use, and their docs could not ask about it,” lead creator Dr. Lillian Gelberg, professor of household medication on the David Geffen Faculty of Medication at UCLA and of well being coverage and administration on the UCLA Fielding Faculty of Public Well being, said in a statement to UCLA Well being.  “Not asking sufferers about their hashish use ends in a missed alternative for opening up doctor-patient communication relating to use of hashish usually and for administration of their signs.”

In 2020, the U.S. Preventive Providers Process Drive advisable that main care physicians display their grownup sufferers for the usage of hashish and different substances. The next yr, the researchers who performed the examine launched a self-administered survey on hashish use and medical hashish use as a part of the UCLA Well being medical system’s common digital well being report. Sufferers full the survey by way of the system’s on-line portal as a part of the pre-visit screening earlier than visits for main care.

UCLA Well being is considered one of only some healthcare techniques that ask sufferers to finish a voluntary hashish use evaluation as a part of the pre-visit course of for main care sufferers. UCLA Well being makes use of the WHO Alcohol Substance Involvement Screening Check (ASSIST) to evaluate hashish use.

The researchers used anonymized well being report information collected by UCLA Well being between January 2021 and Could 2023 to find out the prevalence of hashish use and the explanations sufferers are utilizing the drug and to establish different elements that correlate with hashish use. Roughly 176,000 sufferers accomplished the survey, together with nearly 30,000 (17%) who mentioned they have been hashish customers. Amongst those that self-reported hashish use, 35% had outcomes that steered a average or excessive danger of hashish use dysfunction.

Amongst hashish customers, 40% had consumed weed a few times in the course of the earlier three months, 17% used marijuana month-to-month, 1 / 4 (25%) used hashish each week and practically a fifth (19%) used weed on a each day or near-daily foundation.

Practically half (47%) of respondents mentioned that they used hashish medicinally. Nonetheless, 76% used weed to handle signs corresponding to psychological well being signs or stress (56%), sleep (56%) and ache (37%). Moreover, most sufferers who mentioned they used marijuana recreationally had additionally used it to handle a symptom in some unspecified time in the future of their lives.

The researchers word that the examine had limitations, together with a reliance on self-reported information. Moreover, whereas hashish is authorized in California, the stigma hooked up to the plant could imply that some sufferers didn’t absolutely disclose their hashish use. The survey information was collected in the course of the Covid-19 pandemic when the usage of hashish could have been larger than it could have been in any other case.

Nonetheless, “given the excessive charges of hashish use and medical hashish use that we discovered on this giant city healthcare system, it’s important that healthcare techniques implement routine screening of all main care sufferers,” the researchers wrote.  “Integrating screening efforts to incorporate info relating to hashish use for symptom administration might assist improve the identification and documentation of medical hashish utilization, significantly within the healthcare context.”

Dr. Benjamin Caplan, M.D., the creator of The Physician-Permitted Hashish Handbook, cited different shortcomings of the examine, together with its deal with hashish use dysfunction. He says that the take a look at utilized by the researchers is designed to evaluate a number of substance use problems and lacks an in depth deal with hashish customers’ particular traits. 

Regardless of these and different examine limitations, Caplan recommended the researchers for “acknowledging necessary alternatives, like the necessity for knowledgeable conversations.” 

“Healthcare suppliers should combine discussions about hashish use into routine care, permitting sufferers to speak their experiences brazenly,” he wrote in an e-mail to Excessive Time. “Medical doctors want to know why sufferers select hashish over standard remedies and be told about each the dangers and advantages of hashish. It will result in higher administration methods and assist techniques for hashish customers, whether or not their use is medical or non-medical.”

Caplan added that the examine “reveals a key takeaway: even sufferers inside main care are closely reliant on hashish for symptom reduction. This underscores a essential concern that’s seen all through our medical system, which is that docs will not be adequately assembly sufferers’ wants for managing nervousness, sleeplessness, ache, and different signs. That’s necessary information that isn’t mentioned loudly sufficient.”

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