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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Characterization of mental health in cannabis dispensary users, using structured clinical interviews and standardized assessment instruments Yau, Jade


Medical cannabis has been reported to improve the symptoms of various mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression and chronic pain. Conversely, other studies have suggested that cannabis use contributes to mental health problems. Information gathered about medical cannabis users from previous studies have been mostly self-reported with limited diagnostic measures examining mental health. The goal of the present study was to expand on current research using standardized and clinical assessments to analyze the severity of mental health and any psychiatric conditions in a non-epidemiological population of medical cannabis users from a dispensary in Vancouver. We administered the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview, based on criteria from the DSM-IV-TR and ICD-10. In order to obtain detailed information about the general well-being and mental health of individuals, seven standardized assessments evaluated perceived stress, fatigue, sleep disturbances, depression, somatic symptoms, pain, and nicotine dependence. This will provide high quality data that can be better compared to other studies in the literature. Most frequently diagnosed conditions were anxiety, depression, and substance dependence, but most self-reported conditions were anxiety, sleep and depression. Results showed that medical cannabis users with a depression diagnosis had higher perceived stress, but severity of depression was mostly minimal. Many participants reported using cannabis to treat depression, but only three had current depression. Participants with any anxiety disorder mostly preferred to use pure CBD, and many had experienced negative effects with cannabis use. A diagnosis of specific anxiety disorders, such as GAD, PTSD or social phobia, were more likely to have higher perceived stress. Those with substance dependence diagnoses showed earlier onset of regular cannabis use, higher frequency of cannabis use and dispensary visits. Alcohol or other non-cannabis dependence diagnoses were more likely to be diagnosed with panic disorder, social phobia, and higher perceived stress. Our population did not have severe disturbances with sleep, somatic symptoms or pain ratings. 74% used cannabis daily, and the average cannabis amount used per week was 4.29 grams of dried cannabis. Ultimately, cannabis may provide a therapeutic option for individuals with mental health conditions looking for alternative treatments.

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