United States: A California-based large healthcare system survey results reveal that one in every six patients admitted to using marijuana regularly, with most of them citing health as the impetus for their decision. 

Thus, doctors may not be aware in most cases whether weed has become a part of the patient’s diet. 

More about the finding 

According to the study author, Dr. Lillian Gelberg, a professor of health policy and management at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), “Patients may not tell their primary care providers about their cannabis use, and their doctors may not ask about it,” as US News reported. 

He added, “Not asking patients about their cannabis use results in a missed opportunity for opening up doctor-patient communication regarding the use of cannabis generally and for management of their symptoms.” 

One in Six US State Patients Regularly Use Marijuana. Credit | Getty Images
One in Six US State Patients Regularly Use Marijuana. Credit | Getty Images

Reason for high marijuana consumption 

Eased laws regarding marijuana have significantly improved the chances of Americans accessing the substance. Thirty-eight states, three territories of the United States, and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for medical use, and only twenty-four of these states have approved recreational use. 

All it at the same time revealed that the strength of all this cannabis has been enhanced almost to the maximum, the researchers said. It is evident that most researchers have considered the habit of cannabis utilization as the cause of new-onset psychosis. 

Concerned, an independent advisory body in the United States – called the US Preventive Services Task Force – officially suggested in 2022 that doctors should conduct routine checks of their patients’ cannabis use. 

To gain insight, Gelberg’s team examined the health records of almost 176,000 patients in the UCLA Health system. This is posed in what the system deems as survey questions that the members are required to answer during the pre-appointment check-ins of patients, including questions on the use of cannabis. 

One in Six US State Patients Regularly Use Marijuana. Credit | AP
One in Six US State Patients Regularly Use Marijuana. Credit | AP

The researchers identified that 30,000 (17 percent) of the patients admitted that they consumed marijuana within three months. 

Of this sample, over a third possessed what the researchers determined to be moderate- to high-risk cannabis use disorder

It was also discovered that among the active users, 40 percent used marijuana once or twice in the preceding three months, while 17 percent used it monthly, 25 percent weekly, and 19 percent daily or almost daily, according to the research team. 

This was usually through burning and inhaling the substance (65 percent) or using marijuana in baked foods and drinks (64.7 percent). 

As for why they began using the drug, the majority (76 percent) of them said that they used it to address health concerns. 

For specific reasons, these included symptoms or stress of mental health (56 percent) to aid in sleep (56 percent) and to address pain (37 percent). 

Moreover, mostly also said that using marijuana recreationally was to cause certain health symptoms. 

One in Six US State Patients Regularly Use Marijuana. Credit | Adobe Stock
One in Six US State Patients Regularly Use Marijuana. Credit | Adobe Stock

The findings of the study were published in the journal JAMA Network Open on June 5. 

Statements by expert 

The researchers, led by Gelberg, clarified that the results were studied exclusively in California, where cannabis has been legal for quite a long time, and therefore, the numbers can be different in other countries. It was also partly carried out during the pandemic when some of the respondents would perhaps be considered to use cannabis more often. 

As per Gelberg’s team, “Still, given the high rates of cannabis use and medical cannabis use that we found in this large urban healthcare system, it is essential that healthcare systems implement routine screening of all primary care patients,” as US News reported. 

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