The results of a study that analyzed data from 600,000 Spanish residents who regularly use cannabis indicate that long-term use of cannabis does not contribute to health deterioration.
Cannabis use in Spain
Cannabis use among the Spanish population is one of the highest in Europe after France. Personal and private use of cannabis is decriminalized in Spain, with consumption or possession in public subject to a fine.
Published in the magazine Cannabis and cannabinoid researchThe researchers used a sample of 419 subjects among 600,000 respondents to a 2019-2020 national population survey who lived in Catalonia and had used cannabis in the previous 30 days.
Using specific methods to analyze the interviewee data, the researchers calculated that the sample of 419 regular cannabis users was sufficient to represent cannabis users with greater than 95% accuracy.
The people included in thesample of cannabis users they had an average age of 33, worked mainly in the service, administrative or commercial sector and almost three quarters of them had some form of higher education (having left secondary school at 16).
When asked about their previous drug use, 60% of the sample said they had used MDMA, 57% cocaine, 51% LSD, shrooms or other psychedelics, 40% amphetamines and 23% ketamine.
Commenting on the sample’s previous drug use, the study authors said, “The study sample reported higher drug use than the general population…However, this higher use does not appear to be associated with negative on health, as evidenced by the Used indicators. »
Comparison with the general population
Most indicators used by researchers to assess the health status of the respondents did not show any worsening compared with the general population. These indicators include BMI, cholesterol, positive perception of health, and fruit and vegetable consumption.
88% of the sample had positive perceptions of their health compared to the general population, 67% of cannabis users had a normal body mass index compared to the general population, and 76% of the cannabis sample walked ten minutes or more per day. day, compared to 70% of the population.
To assess mental health, the researchers asked several questions, including “How do you feel while using cannabis?” 94% of respondents said they were “happy”, 92% felt “full of ideas” and 81% felt they “understood the world better”.
The researchers stated in their study that “most indicators did not show a deterioration in the health of regular cannabis users compared to the general population. It was observed that users suffered more sleep problems and about 40% of the sample wanted to stop using cannabis, suggesting an addiction pattern. About 30% of the sample were able to stop taking prescription drugs thanks to cannabis. Social support and sleep problems, not cannabis use, were predictors of depression and well-being scores. »
Study authors recommend including more cannabis-related questions in future national population surveys and warn against this cannabis users develop addiction problems.
“By comparing our sample with data obtained from the general population using the ESCA, we found that cannabis users had better indicators regarding positive perception of health, BMI, cholesterol and blood pressure problems, presence of chronic diseases, physical limitations in daily activities, modes of transport (cycling is preferred by cannabis users) and depression,” said the researchers.
“Although these differences cannot be attributed solely to cannabis use, they suggest that regular users of the drug experience no relevant adverse effects in terms of key indicators of overall health. We must remember that assessing the specific impact of cannabis use on health is difficult because health is a very complex construct influenced by multiple variables. »
” Moreover, addiction potential has also been observed, suggesting that prolonged use of cannabis over years may be associated with a higher risk of developing such addiction. Another significant finding is that frequency of cannabis use is apparently unrelated to depression and well-being scores, while social support and sleep problems are strong predictors. »
“In conclusion, these findings suggest that long-term cannabis use may not play a central role in terms of public health, whereas other health behaviors and complex variables are more related to health. We suggest including cannabis-related articles in national health surveys, as they would provide valuable data to support the advancement of public debates on its regulation. »
The complete study can be viewed here.