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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2019 Feb 14;197:134-140. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2019.01.010. [Epub ahead of print]

Serious psychological distress and daily cannabis use, 2008 to 2016: Potential implications for mental health?

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Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Yeshiva University, Bronx, NY, USA; Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, Yeshiva University Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Health Behavior, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY, USA. Electronic address:
Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Center for Technology and Behavioral Health, Lebanon, NH, USA. Electronic address:
Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Yeshiva University, Bronx, NY, USA. Electronic address:
Institute for Implementation Science and Population Health, CUNY School of Public Health and Health Policy, New York, NY, USA; Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, CUNY School of Public Health, New York, NY, USA; Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA. Electronic address:



Daily cannabis use is increasing in the United States (US). Yet, it is not known whether daily cannabis use is disproportionately common, or whether it has increased differentially over time, by mental health status. This study estimated the prevalence of daily cannabis use among adults in the US with and without past-month serious psychological distress (SPD; measured by the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K6)) in 2016 and estimated trends in daily cannabis use by past-30-day SPD status from 2008 to 2016.


Data were drawn from adults age 18 and older in the 2008-2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (combined total analytic sample n = 356,413). Linear time trends of daily cannabis use, stratified by SPD status, were assessed using logistic regression models with continuous year as the predictor.


In 2016, past-month daily cannabis use was significantly more common among those with past-month SPD (8.07%), compared to those without past-month SPD (2.66%). Daily cannabis use increased significantly from 2008 to 2016 among those both with and without SPD although use among those with SPD was persistently higher than use among those without SPD over the time period studied.


Daily cannabis use is significantly more common among persons with serious psychological distress and is increasing in this group, as well as among those without. Given this increase and the high prevalence of cannabis use among those with SPD, it may be important to consider potential consequences of this increased use for those with mental health vulnerabilities.


Cannabis; Epidemiology; NSDUH; Psychological distress

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