Trends in Cannabis Use Among Hospital Patients

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Trends in cannabis use among hospital patients With a widespread focus on the medical properties and safety concerns, understanding how cannabis affects the health of patients is important

The prevalence of cannabis use in the general U.S. population more than doubled in the period between 2002 and 2011. In 2002, 4.5% of the adult population reported having used cannabis, whereas in 2011 this was the case for 9.5% of the population. One-third of all adults aged 18 to 34 have tried cannabis in their lifetimes.

Less known are the changes in cannabis use among medical patients. Given the increasingly widespread focus on the plant’s medical properties, as well as concerns voiced over its safety, it is important to understand how the drug is affecting the health patient population.

To better understand this issue, Dr. Paris Charilaou and colleagues from the Rutgers/Saint Peter’s University Hospital in New Jersey dived into a gigantic clinical database and returned with a handful of interesting findings. Their report can be retrieved from the American Journal of Medicine.

The team analyzed information of nearly 300 million hospitalization cases spanning for over a decade, which represents faithfully about 95% of the U.S. population. They focused on cannabis-related diagnoses that were either the main condition or a secondary problem to another disease.

Between 2002 and 2011, a total of 2,833,567 (0.91%) adults admitted into a hospital were diagnosed with cannabis abuse or dependence. The proportion of patients with these conditions increased three times during this period (from 0.52% in 2002 to 1.34% in 2011).

As expected, the majority of the patients with cannabis-related diagnosis were male (62.5%). Interestingly, the sharpest increases were observed among the richest and poorest patients, whereas the middle class showed a steady decrease year after year. Ethnic prevalences were more or less stable, with the exception of a notable increase by Native Americans.

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