This is the first part of a two-part series on a recent examination of the cannabis-use profiles and risk-factors associated with smoking cannabis in people using cannabis with medical intent. Smoking cannabis is associated with exposure to harmful toxins and therefore is one of the greatest health risks related to cannabis use. This is an important consideration for people using cannabis with a medical intent. Therefore, we examined the differences in those who prefer smoking cannabis to other consumption forms for mental health.

Our methodology aimed to explore the differences in the personal characteristics, mental health status, and cannabis-use profiles of those who smoke cannabis versus consumed cannabis by vaporization or oral ingestion. We collected data on how cannabis was being used and indicators of mental health and wellbeing for 100 medical cannabis dispensary users.

Key insights:

1. Inhaled cannabis, and more specifically smoked cannabis, was the most popular route of consumption in this sample (47%).

2. Cannabis smokers have distinct patterns of use compared to other consumption forms:

– They had a greater preference for THC-dominant chemovars.

– They consumed more frequently.

– They used in a greater quantity compared to those who vaporized their cannabis.

3. Smoking cannabis was not associated with cannabis use disorder, but was associated with an increased prevalence of alcohol use disorder.

4. There was no association detected between any form of consumption and anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder.

Dr. Caroline MacCallum is a specialist in internal medicine with expertise in complex pain and cannabinoid medicine. In addition to serving as an advisor to EO Care, she is a clinical instructor in the Department of Medicine; Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences program; and associate member in the Dept. of Palliative Care at the University of British Columbia. An avid researcher, Dr. MacCallum is primary author of Practical Considerations for Medical Cannabis Administration and Dosing, and assistant editor for Cannabinoids and Pain.

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