Published In

Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research

Document Type


Publication Date



Marijuana use, Hospitals -- Emergency services, Drug abuse -- Surveys, Drug abusers -- Services for


Emergency department (ED) settings have gained interest as venues for illegal drug misuse prevention and intervention, with researchers and practitioners attempting to capitalize on the intersection of need and opportunity within these settings. This study of 686 adult patients visiting two EDs for various reasons who admitted drug use compared daily cannabis-only users, nondaily cannabis-only users, and other drug users on sociodemographic and drug-related severity outcomes. The three drug use groups did not differ on most sociodemographic factors or medical problem severity scores. Forty-five percent of the sample was identified as having a drug use problem. ED patients who used drugs other than cannabis were at particular risk for high drug use severity indicators and concomitant problems such as psychiatric problems and alcohol use severity. However, 19-29% of cannabis-only users were identified as having problematic drug use. Furthermore, daily cannabis-only users fared less well than nondaily cannabis users with regard to drug use severity indicators and self-efficacy for avoiding drug use. Results may assist emergency medicine providers and medical social workers in matching patients to appropriate intervention. For example, users of drugs other than cannabis (and perhaps heavy, daily cannabis-only users) may need referral to specialty services for further assessment. Enhancement of motivation and self-efficacy beliefs could be an important target of prevention and treatment for cannabis-only users screened in the ED.


© Susan I. Woodruff et al. 2016; Published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. This Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited.

Originally published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research and can be found online at:



Persistent Identifier