Assessing Cannabis Use Disorder Risks among Washington’s Medical and Recreational Users

Seattle, WA – In Washington state, where recreational cannabis has been legal since 2012 and medical cannabis since 1998, there’s a rising concern regarding Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD). A recent study published in the journal JAMA Network Open, delved into the patterns and reasons for cannabis use, bringing to light crucial data about the prevalence of CUD.

The University of Washington spearheaded this comprehensive study by examining survey results from 1,463 adult patients, garnered in 2019 from a prominent health system in the state. These participants were probed about their cannabis use habits, spanning from the past month to the previous year, along with their reasons for usage and their preferred methods of intake.

The findings shed light on a prevalent issue. “In this cross-sectional study of primary care patients in a state with legal recreational cannabis use, CUD was common among patients who used cannabis, with 21% having CUD and 6% having moderate to severe CUD,” the study reports. Notably, patients who consumed cannabis solely for medical reasons were generally older and showed a propensity to use applied products.

While only 1.3% of those using cannabis exclusively for medical purposes showed signs of moderate to severe CUD, a surprising 13.4% met the criteria for mild, moderate, or severe CUD. This data emphasizes the need for proper tracking and support mechanisms for medical cannabis users. Separately, it’s worth noting that there is currently no online registration process for medical cards in WA, a potential area for further improvement in patient support and monitoring.

Gwen Lapham, assistant professor at Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine, expressed the central message of the research, stating, “The main take-home message of our study is that cannabis use disorder is common among primary care patients in a state with legal cannabis use.”

It’s not just Washington that’s grappling with this issue. There are global concerns as well. Studies from far-flung locations, including Australia and England, have unearthed similar patterns, linking medical cannabis use with a heightened risk of developing CUD.

The implications of this Washington study underscore the urgency of routinely assessing CUD and cannabis consumption patterns in clinical settings. As states and countries continue to adapt and evolve their cannabis policies, understanding the broader implications on public health becomes paramount.

Christopher Stern

Christopher Stern is a Washington-based reporter. Chris spent many years covering tech policy as a business reporter for renowned publications. He has extensive experience covering Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Trade Commissions. He is a graduate of Middlebury College. Email:[email protected]

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