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Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2016 Jul 1;1(1):166-175. doi: 10.1089/can.2016.0010. eCollection 2016.

Sex Differences in Cannabis Use and Effects: A Cross-Sectional Survey of Cannabis Users.

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Department of Psychology, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington.
Bastyr University Research Institute, Seattle, Washington.
Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy, Seattle, Washington.


Introduction: Despite known sex differences in the endocannabinoid system of animals, little attention has been paid to sex differences in human's cannabis use patterns and effects. The purpose of the present study was to examine sex differences in cannabis use patterns and effects in a large sample of recreational and medical cannabis users. Methods: A large sample (n=2374) of cannabis users completed an anonymous, online survey that assessed their cannabis use practices and experiences, including the short-term acute effects of cannabis and withdrawal effects. A subsample of 1418 medical cannabis users further indicated the medical conditions for which they use cannabis and its perceived efficacy. Results: The results indicated that men reported using cannabis more frequently and in higher quantities than did women. Men were more likely to report using joints/blunts, vaporizers, and concentrates, while women were more likely to report using pipes and oral administration. Men were more likely than women to report increased appetite, improved memory, enthusiasm, altered time perception, and increased musicality when high, while women were more likely than men to report loss of appetite and desire to clean when high. Men were more likely than women to report insomnia and vivid dreams during periods of withdrawal, while women were more likely than men to report nausea and anxiety as withdrawal symptoms. Sex differences in the conditions for which medical cannabis is used, and its efficacy, were trivial. Conclusions: These results may be used to focus research on biological and psychosocial mechanisms underlying cannabis-related sex differences, to inform clinicians treating individuals with cannabis use disorders, and to inform cannabis consumers, clinicians, and policymakers about the risks and benefits of cannabis for both sexes.


cannabis; cannabis acute effects; cannabis withdrawal; medical cannabis; sex differences

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