Cannabis Use for Medicinal Purposes among Canadian University Students Article

Smith, JM, Mader, J, Szeto, ACH et al. (2019). Cannabis Use for Medicinal Purposes among Canadian University Students . 64(5), 351-355. 10.1177/0706743718818420

cited authors

  • Smith, JM; Mader, J; Szeto, ACH; Arria, AM; Winters, KC; Wilkes, TCR

fiu authors


  • Objective: The study sought to describe a Canadian sample of university students’ medicinal use of cannabis, including prevalence of cannabis use disorder (CUD) and replacement of traditional treatments with cannabis. Method: A random sample of 4000 university students was asked to complete a cross-sectional web-based survey. The survey was completed by 2212 (average age 23.2 years, SD = 5.2 years), representing a 55.3% response rate. To be eligible, students had to be enrolled in a class on campus and were 18 years or older. Result: Half (52%) of respondents used cannabis at least once in their lifetime, with ∼11% reporting medicinal cannabis use. Recreational motives to use cannabis were common among medicinal users (85%), several (38%) replaced traditional medication with cannabis, and more than a third received authorization by a health care provider. Of the medicinal users, 13.6% met the criteria for CUD. Common ailments for medicinal cannabis use were anxiety, sleep problems, depression, and pain. When mental health–related categories are combined, 78.2% of medicinal users used for at least 1 mental health condition. Conclusions: Medicinal cannabis use occurs among university students. None of the ailments listed by medicinal users meet the Canadian Family Physicians prescribing guidelines, and most are not among those viewed by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine as having strong evidence for therapeutic value. The results raise concerns for health care providers who are authorizing or counselling patients’ considering medicinal cannabis.

publication date

  • May 1, 2019

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

start page

  • 351

end page

  • 355


  • 64


  • 5