Exclusive therapeutic use of cannabis in France: characteristics and use patterns in a large sample of daily users
In several countries, many cannabis users report a therapeutic use of cannabis, as a complement or alternative of classic pharmaceutical prescriptions, and with or without physician’s recommendations. To date, no data on the characteristics of therapeutic cannabis users in France are available. We aimed to describe the cannabis users according to the purpose of cannabis use.
We conducted in 2020 a French national cross-sectional web-based survey, in collaboration with a harm reduction association. Participants were French daily cannabis users, recruited through drug user community websites. They completed a questionnaire, providing data on the sociodemographic characteristics, health status, cannabis and other psychoactive substances use patterns. We performed a multivariable logistic regression model to assess factors associated with exclusive therapeutic use of cannabis.
Of the 4150 participants, 10.9% (N=453) reported use of cannabis for exclusive therapeutic purpose. Most frequently reported therapeutic benefits expected from cannabis use were pain management (90.1%), anxiety and depression symptoms relief (82.1%) and quality of sleep improvement (74.6%). Older age, unemployment, living in a rural area, reporting a physical and a mental health disorder, daily frequency of cannabis intakes, non-smoking cannabis administration route, home production of cannabis, opiate use and problematic alcohol use were all associated with the exclusive therapeutic use of cannabis.
Our results suggest that exclusive therapeutic use of cannabis is not rare among French users, and these therapeutic users differ from recreational users. A better knowledge of the distinct profiles and practices of regular cannabis users may provide a way to improve harm reduction strategies and care access for this population in France.