Who Are America’s Medical Marijuana Patients

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director July 21, 2011

    Analysis by California NORML coordinator Dale Gieringer, Ph.D

    An interesting new study of the California medical cannabis user population by Prof. Craig Reinarman et al. appears in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 43(2) Apr-Jun, 2011: “Who Are Medical Marijuana Patients? Population Characteristics from Nine California Assessment Clinics”.

    Noteworthy findings:

    *Medical cannabis use is higher than average among Blacks and Native Americans, lower among Latinos and Asians.

    *73% of patients are male.

    *Use is heaviest in the 25-44 year age group.

    *Leading indications:

    82.6% for pain

    70.7% to improve sleep

    55% for “relaxation”

    41% for muscle spasms

    41% for headaches

    38% for anxiety

    28% for nausea

    26% for depression

    51% use as a substitute for prescription medication (showing that medical cannabis may offer significant health cost savings)

    Medical cannabis users report significantly lower alcohol & cocaine use than the average population,  supporting the substitution theory that more cannabis use may lead to less abuse of other drugs.

    Abstract – Marijuana is a currently illegal psychoactive drug that many physicians believe has substantial therapeutic uses. The medical literature contains a growing number of studies on cannabinoids as well as case studies and anecdotal reports suggesting therapeutic potential. Fifteen states have passed medical marijuana laws, but little is known about the growing population of patients who use marijuana medicinally. This article reports on a sample of 1,746 patients from a network of nine medical marijuana evaluation clinics in California. Patients completed a standardized medical history form; evaluating physicians completed standardized evaluation forms. From this data we describe patient characteristics, self-reported presenting symptoms, physician evaluations, other treatments tried, other drug use, and medical marijuana use practices. Pain, insomnia, and anxiety were the most common conditions for which evaluating physicians recommended medical marijuana. Shifts in the medical marijuana patient population over time, the need for further research, and the issue of diversion are discussed.

    80 Responses to “Who Are America’s Medical Marijuana Patients”

    1. […] full post on NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform Share and […]

    2. rusty hayes says:

      I need a sign like the article has,I have had 18 major surgeries,the 19th is on the horizon, reefer helps ignore the pain,I do take less script pills when I have a quaility level of reefer,but I live in Ohio and am screwed,1 hour away in Michigan they have medical reefer, honestly folks we are not what the stereotype makes us out to be.

    3. Ed Branstetter says:

      I can NOT say for others but when I was 16-17 years old and first started to smoke pot I mostly drank until I discovered a simple truth. No hang over it didn’t make me throw up and no matter how much I smoked I could ALWAYS remember the night before. Now I have chronic pain, MS and diabetic neuropathy but still live in a state were MEDICAL pot is still not legal. Why is that the politicians are so afraid of and why are they dictating medical policy I have yet to see a doctor make political law? Just sayin.

    4. Our courts are laying people off and Their still arresting people for weed.A friend is a 65 yo vietnaim vet.got arrested in texas.That Suck

    5. Calcula7ed says:

      Cannabinoid receptors within the brain. Cannabinoid? Cannabis? I don’t believe in coincidence.

      “So look at the date — 1937 — what’s going on in this country? Well, a lot of things, but the number one thing was that, in 1936, President Franklin Roosevelt was reelected in the largest landslide election in this country’s history till then. He brought with him two Democrats for every Republican, all, or almost all of them pledged to that package of economic and social reform legislation we today call the New Deal.”

      “And, did you know that the American Medical Association, from 1932, straight through 1937, had systematically opposed every single piece of New Deal legislation. So that, by 1937, this committee, heavily made up of New Deal Democrats is simply sick of hearing them: “Doctor, if you can’t say something good about what we are trying to do, why don’t you go home?”

      “So, over the objection of the American Medical Association, the bill passed out of committee and on to the floor of Congress. Now, some of you may think that the debate on the floor of Congress was more extensive on the marijuana prohibition. It wasn’t. It lasted one minute and thirty-two seconds.”

      “The entire debate on the national marijuana prohibition was as follows — and, by the way, if you had grown up in Washington, DC as I had you would appreciate this date. Are you ready? The bill was brought on to the floor of the House of Representatives — there never was any Senate debate on it not one word — 5:45 Friday afternoon, August 20. Now, in pre-air-conditioning Washington, who was on the floor of the House? Who was on the floor of the House? Not very many people.”

      “In the Senate there never was any debate or a recorded vote, and the bill went to President Roosevelt’s desk and he signed it and we had the national marijuana prohibition.”

      Thanks B&W.

    6. Calcula7ed says:

      “Immediately after the passage of the national marijuana prohibition, Commissioner Anslinger decided to hold a conference of all the people who knew something about marijuana — a big national conference. He invited forty-two people to this conference. As part our research for the book, we found the exact transcript of this conference. Ready?”

      “The first morning of the conference of the forty-two people that Commissioner Anslinger invited to talk about marijuana, 39 of them got up and said some version of “Gee, Commissioner Anslinger, I don’t know why you asked me to this conference, I don’t know anything about marijuana.”

      “That left three people. Dr. Woodward and his assistant — you know what they thought.”

      “That left one person — the pharmacologist from Temple University — the guy with the dogs.”

      “And what do you think happened as a result of that conference? Commissioner Anslinger named the pharmacologist from Temple University the Official Expert of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics about marijuana, a position the guy held until 1962. Now, the irony of trying to find out what the drug did after it had been prohibited — finding out that only one person agrees with you — and naming him the Official Expert, speaks for itself.”

      Thanks B&W.

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    8. Kelly says:

      It also help epileptics. Marijuana makes my epileptic auras stop.And I tried Marinol and all it did was make me physically sick.

    9. Brandon C says:

      I find it quite hilarious that our President of these fine United States [will] legally have access to medical cannabis distribution centers (Washington D.C), provided he receives the proper medical advisory from an authorized physician, while most of the remaining country is on their knees to the Federal government over medical cannabis access.

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