Study: Five Percent Of Californians Report Having Used Cannabis To Treat A Serious Medical Condition

"Our study contradicts commonly held beliefs that medical marijuana is being overused by healthy individuals"

Study: Five Percent Of Californians Report Having Used Cannabis To Treat A Serious Medical Condition

Sacramento, CA: Five percent of Californians say that they have consumed cannabis therapeutically in the treatment of a serious medical condition, according to population-based surveillance data published online ahead of print in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review.

Investigators with the Public Health Institute in Sacramento assessed survey data collected from a random sampling of 7,525 Californians age 18 or older. Data was initially collected in 2012 as part of the California Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System telephone survey. Participants in the survey were asked, ‘Have you ever used medical marijuana for a serious medical condition?’ This study is the first to use population-based surveillance data to estimate the extent of medical cannabis use in California.

Researchers reported that some 5.7 percent of men and 4.6 percent of women acknowledged having ever use cannabis medicinally. Of these, 92 percent reported a high degree of satisfaction with cannabis therapy. Californians were most likely to report having used cannabis therapeutically to address symptoms associated with chronic pain (31 percent), arthritis (11 percent), migraine (8 percent), and cancer (7 percent).

Self-reported medical marijuana consumers were more likely to be Caucasian and were somewhat more likely to be younger in age, the study found. However, authors reported, "Even though those who are younger and white are more likely to report ever using medical marijuana than their older or non-white counterparts, our study shows that medical marijuana is used by a diverse population and is not limited to any specific age, gender, racial/ethnic or education group."

Authors concluded: [I]t is clear that (California’s medical marijuana law) is helping people who are sick and use medical marijuana to treat serious medical conditions. … Our study contradicts commonly held beliefs that medical marijuana is being overused by healthy individuals … under the pretense that they have a serious medical condition and that they ‘need’ marijuana to treat it."

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, "Prevalence of medical marijuana use in California, 2012," will appear in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review.