Medical marijuana has quickly become one of the most popular drugs in the United States. As it turns out, there’s a good reason for this: The vast majority of patients – almost all of them – say the drug works.
A new California health survey found 92 percent of MMJ patients believe the medicine works on some of their conditions, such as chronic pain, cancer, arthritis, and migraine headaches. According to the survey, almost 5 percent of Californians said they have used cannabis to treat a “serious medical condition.”
That’s not a very large number, especially considering that 4 percent of Americans use weed regularly. There almost certainly is strong overlap between the two groups.
“Our study’s results lend support to the idea that medical marijuana is used equally by many groups of people and is not exclusively used by any one specific group,” the authors wrote.
The study found no gender difference in medical marijuana use. Older adults are less likely to use the drug as a medicine, but not by much. About 2 percent of adults over 65 use medical marijuana, compared to 9 percent of adults between 18 and 24. That may seem like a big gap, but not in proportion to the overall population – and other age groups make up for it.
Whites are more likely to toke than ethnic or racial minorities. More than 7 percent of white people have used medical weed while just 3 percent of Latinos have done the same. African Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and “other” racial groups use at a rate between those.
“The absolute difference in prevalence between the racial/ethnic groups is less than three percentage points, which may not have much importance in practical terms,” the authors of the study caution.
People who attend college are slightly less likely to use MMJ than are people who dropped out of high school, got a diploma, or got a GED. But again, the difference is very small.
Of 7,525 subjects, 350 said they have used medical marijuana. Of those, 320 – 92.03 percent – said it has helped their serious health conditions. Chronic pain, arthritis, migraines, and cancer made up the bulk of the cases.
MMJ was used to treat pain in 31 percent of survey respondents, arthritis in 11 percent, migraines in 8 percent, and cancer in 7 percent. That means as much as 43 percent of medical marijuana users use the drug to treat other conditions.
Importantly, the study rejects the idea that medical marijuana is a “giant con job,” as a California police lobbyist recently said.
“Our study contradicts commonly held beliefs that medical marijuana is being overused by healthy individuals,” the authors said. “The most common reasons for use include medical conditions for which mainstream treatments may not exist, such as for migraines, or may not be effective, including for chronic pain and cancer.”