Summer Study: Medicinal Cannabis Use

About the Author

My name is Landin Stein, and I am currently a university student pursuing a career in scientific research. As a student involved in research on and off campus, I am passionate about using science to improve our society and daily lives.

Working with Dr. Jim Lacey and the California Teachers Study (CTS) team was an enlightening experience. I am new to the epidemiology field, but through my time working with the CTS, I learned about research regulations as well as the type of data that epidemiologists compile and analyze. By developing my own research project, I got a better understanding of how to use study data to answer questions about participant behavior and health.

My Research Project

My summer project focused on the use of cannabis for medical purposes. Since being legalized at the state level, marijuana use has continued to increase. We wanted to better understand participant use of medicinal cannabis use and whether there was a relationship between participant characteristics—such as self-reported quality of sleep, household income, or physical activity—and self-reported use of medicinal cannabis.

For this project we focused on participants who responded to Questionnaire 6 (2017 – 2019), a survey that collected updates on 37,279 participants' health history, sleep habits, hormone use, physical activity, medications, and family history of cancer. Questionnaire 6 also included additional questions to support new areas of research; one of these new areas was medicinal cannabis use.

We performed univariate (one variable) and multivariate (two or more variables) analysis of participant characteristics at the time of Questionnaire 6 and compared distributions among participants who reported using medical marijuana versus those who reported they did not use marijuana. Among participants who reported using medicinal cannabis, we also compared those characteristics by methods of use and reasons for use.

Our initial results suggest there may be an association between medicinal cannabis use and certain participant characteristics. Among Questionnaire 6 responders, medicinal marijuana use appeared to be more common among participants who reported severe to extreme issues with sleep. More research is needed to better understand this relationship.

Future Goals

In the future, I would like to continue this research by exploring the relationship between medicinal cannabis use and participant comorbidities, meaning the presence of multiple medical conditions in a patient. Lastly, taking a deeper look into the association between participant characteristics and the reasons for use and method of use among participants who reported use of medicinal cannabis would help further this study.