Medical Marijuana Use and Diversion: Prevalence and Correlates from an At-Risk Sample

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Reports and Publications
November 2015
Katz, Charles M., Lidia Nuno, David Choate, Michael White, and Michael Shafer

The current study seeks to explore these issues through an examination of the prevalence of medical marijuana use and diversion of medical marijuana among adults in an at-risk sample, with a specific focus on identifying the factors that are related to medical marijuana use and acquisition. We use data from a sample of recently booked adult arrestees, which allows for early identification of substantial shifts in drug use. Recently booked arrestees represent a sample of the most “disadvantaged members of the urban underclass.” This sample serves as an effective source of data for identifying abrupt changes in patterns of drug use because it taps into those who are most likely to participate in the incubation phase of changing drug markets that later effect a larger population. Therefore, our sample allows us to observe issues related to medical marijuana use in the early stages in the implementation of a new marijuana market. We first examine the prevalence of marijuana use over a 74-month period (6.2 years), before and after medical marijuana legislation was enacted. Next, we examine the socio-demographic and criminogenic characteristics of non-users, authorized medical marijuana users, non-authorized medical marijuana users and non-medical marijuana users. We then examine the relationship between marijuana use, criminality, drug acquisition, and drug use.