People who use marijuana for medical purposes are much more likely to vaporize or consume edible forms of the drug than recreational users, according to a new RAND Corporation study.
The study, which surveyed people from four western states that have legalized medical marijuana, also found that those who use marijuana for medicinal purposes are more likely to report daily or near-daily use and consume more as measured by grams per day.
In addition, those who only use marijuana for medicinal purposes do not report use of marijuana concurrently with alcohol, while those who report using recreationally consume marijuana with alcohol on nearly one in five occasions. Findings regarding the simultaneous use of alcohol and marijuana is important because past research shows such activity is more likely to result in health harm, including accidents.
The study, found that 41 percent of people reported having used marijuana recreationally at least once in their lifetime, while only about 7 percent of those surveyed reported using marijuana for medical purposes. More than half of those who said they used for medicinal purposes reported that they did not have a physician’s recommendation to do so.
Published online by the journal Addiction, the study provides some of the first evidence about patterns of marijuana use in states that have legalized medical marijuana. While past efforts have surveyed special populations such as those suffering from cancer pain, the RAND study draws on a sample of the general household population in these states.