About 1/3 North Americans Self Medicate with Cannabis, Mostly for Pain

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Janni Leung, PhD
Senior Research Fellow
National Centre for Youth Substance Use Research (NCYSUR)
The University of Queensland

Dr. Leung

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study? 

Response: There is increasing interest in cannabis use for medical reasons, and we want to find out how many people are using it and for what.

PainRelief.com:  What are the main findings?

Response: Almost 1 in 3 of North Americans self-reported that they have used cannabis for medical reasons, with higher use reported by young adults, although chronic conditions are less prevalent in this group.

Most common reasons were to help with pain, sleep, depression and anxiety, but some reported using it to manage their drug or alcohol use and psychosis.

PainRelief.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: A substantial proportion of the North American population self-reported cannabis use for medical purposes for a variety of medical reasons, including those living in jurisdictions without legal markets. Most reported using it to manage pain, but many may have self-medicated and got their cannabis from illegal sources without medical advice.

PainRelief.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Further research on the epidemiology of medical cannabis use is needed to understand populations who may experience unintended negative effects from their medical cannabis use.

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


Leung, J., Chan, G., Stjepanović, D. et al. Prevalence and self-reported reasons of cannabis use for medical purposes in USA and Canada. Psychopharmacology (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-021-06047-8


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Last Updated on January 28, 2022 by PainRelief.com