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. […] the average Prop 215 card holder was a 32-year-old white male with no life threatening illness (instead they got pot for indications such as “relaxation”) and a history of alcohol and drug use. The typical scene of a “dispensary” involves […]

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    3. […] the average Prop 215 card holder was a 32-year-old white male with no life threatening illness (instead they got pot for indications such as “relaxation”) and a history of alcohol and drug use. The typical scene of a “dispensary” involves […]

    4. […] a normal Prop 215 label hilt was a 32-year-old white masculine with no life melancholy illness (instead they got pot for indications such as “relaxation”) and a story of ethanol and drug use. The standard stage of a “dispensary” involves […]

    5. The State of Oregon can go to hell says:

      400.00 a year just to be legal

    6. Chuck Rogers says:

      I am a chronic pain patient on 480mg of Oxycontin daily not counting my Roxicodone and my Nuycenta..I have fibromyalgia x myofascil pain syndrome on top of diabetes on top of cyclic vomting which I have a Marinol script for.Nothing and I mean nothing works as well as cannabis for me.I cannot eat or sleep w/o it.And Im lucky if I get 4 hours sleep a day.My wifes insurance could save thousands of dollars on prescriptions if they would let me alone to medicate with cannabis.I am disabled and probaly for life.I just wish it wouldnt cause me so much fear to procure cannabis to use for a documented illness.

    7. apatientsperspective says:

      I’m a medical Marijuana patient and have been for years although I didn’t rush out and get my card right away because pot is readily available and has been all of my life.
      The reasons I use medical pot are, a lifelong history of bleeding ulcers. I was sixteen when I was first hospitalized for this condition and from that point on have been hospitalized many many times for my stomach issue’s. I have a hiato hernia and this causes nausea on a daily basis, especially fist thing in the morning. When I wake up every morning and feel like I’m going to puke my guts out, which is pretty much every morning, I light up and get amazing relief, better than any anti nausea meds big pharmacy prescribes. My hiato hernia is not considered by my DR. to be serious enough for surgery and the marijuana keeps me from getting sick, once I start throwing up, it gets worse and in the end, I’m looking at more hospitalization. Smoking a joint keeps the nausea in check, thus saving me a trip to the hospital and preventing me from spitting up blood. If I start puking, it’s all over and I will be throwing up blood, which, over the years has caused me to be hospitalized over and over again. But that’s not all. I’m on the fentanyl pain patch for over ten years now, for phantom leg pain, I lost my right leg below the knee in a motorcycle accident, and I would gladly give it up if I could just keep a steady supply of meds. They charge such outrageous prices, that I can’t afford my meds and suffer because of this. And last but not least, Hepatitis C, for which I am already having symptoms from. I get top notch relief from marijuana and think my government is a joke and can no longer be trusted, period. My government is nothing but liar’s and cheats and they think that by telling be untruth’s, I’m going to believe them? That I’m going to respect them? I’ve lost all respect for the feds! When citizens lose respect for their elected officials, that only tells me that it’s time for a little white house cleaning! I’ve been smoking pot for almost 43 years. I’m a white, 53 year old male and I’m above average in intelligence, have a super great memory, I can remember crawling on the floor before I could walk, remember Mom using alcohol and rubbing it on my gums for the teething pain and much more! And I was eleven years old when I started smoking. Some country we live in where your eleven year old child can have easy access to this supposed evil drug. And I have no problem of people getting their cards when there’s nothing wrong with them. Marijuana shouldn’t even be illegal! Just leave me alone and let me smoke my beloved Mary Jane!

    8. demotivator says:


      […]Who Are America’s Medical Marijuana Patients | NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform[…]…

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