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Catherine Marco


Background: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the U.S. with an increasing number of users in recent years.

Objective: This study was undertaken to identify common reasons for marijuana use and any relationship between its use and mental health among Emergency Department (ED) patients. Methods: A total of 303 ED patients participated from the Miami Valley Hospital Emergency Department. Eligible participants included those with any marijuana use. Subjects were administered a survey which identified age of first use, reasons for use, and presence of anxiety and depression (in the present and past).

Results: 303 patients consented to participate (86% response rate). The majority of participants reported a perception that marijuana use improved their mental health (N=158; 52%) and did not worsen it (N=222; 73%). A minority reported marijuana use worsened their mental health (N = 32; 11%) or had a neutral/no effect on it (16%). The most common reasons cited for marijuana use included recreation (N=211; 70%), anxiety (N=89; 29%), pain (N=74; 24%), depression (N=50; 17%), and sleep (N=24; 8%). The age of first marijuana use varied (range age 6 to 65; mean=18). The frequency of marijuana use also varied among participants. The majority of patients reported no marijuana use in the last 30 days (60%), while 18% reported 1-9 days of use, 10% reported 10-20 days of use, and 11% reported daily use.

Conclusions: Marijuana use is common among ED patients. The age of first use varied from age 6 to 65. Marijuana users most commonly use it for recreation, followed by treatment of anxiety, pain, depression, and sleep disturbances. Participants report variable effects of marijuana use on mental health.