Cannabis consumers report better mental health and quality of life outcomes than do non-users, according to data published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.

Brazilian investigators surveyed a convenience sample of 7,491 self-identified marijuana consumers and 839 non-users. Participants’ responses were scored using standardized scales to assess anxiety, depression, quality of life, and subjective well-being.

Those respondents who identified as regular, but not problematic users of cannabis, scored highest on the scales, followed by more occasional consumers. Both groups scored higher on the scales than did those who abstained from marijuana. Those subjects who perceived their cannabis use to be problematic scored lowest on the scales. 

“Even after controlling for possible confounders such as demographics and the use of other psychoactive drugs, occasional or habitual self-perception of cannabis use remained associated with better outcomes of quality of life and mental health,” authors concluded. 

They added, “[The] results obtained in this study are particularly relevant because they were obtained from a sample predominantly composed of habitual cannabis users from the general population, a group less frequently represented in other surveys. Except for self-perceived dysfunctional cannabis use, the association between cannabis use with an increased risk of adverse health outcomes was not observed in the present study. It is possible that these adverse outcomes, generally described in many other studies, may be due to publication bias or the fact that our survey data collection strategy predominantly targeted recreational cannabis users.”

Full text of the study, “Mental health and quality of life in a population of recreational cannabis users in Brazil,” appears in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.

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