Why Use Cannabis? Examining Motives for Cannabis Use in Individuals with Anxiety Disorders Academic Article uri icon

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  • Abstract This study examined cannabis use motives in individuals with anxiety disorders and compared motives between infrequent and frequent cannabis users. It was hypothesised that coping motives would be endorsed at a significantly higher rate than other motives, and that frequent cannabis users would endorse coping motives significantly more than infrequent users. Participants were 144 adults seeking clinical services for anxiety disorders who reported using cannabis. Cannabis use was categorized by infrequent (n = 54) and frequent (n = 90) use. Anxiety symptoms were assessed and deemed clinically significant. Participants completed measures of cannabis use motives, cannabis use patterns, and cannabis use disorder symptoms, cross-sectionally. Cannabis use motives were examined for the entire sample and compared between frequent and infrequent users. In general, cannabis users endorsed coping (i.e., use for managing distress) and enhancement (i.e., use for fun, pleasant feeling, or the high) motives at equal rates (p = .265) and more than other motives (p < .001). Frequent users reported using cannabis for coping and expansion motives (i.e., use to change one's thinking) significantly more than infrequent users. These results indicate that individuals with anxiety disorders use cannabis for various reasons, some of which may not be directly related to their mental health symptoms. Future research is needed to compare motives for cannabis use in those with anxiety disorders, other mental health populations, and the general population, as well as examine motives for cannabis use within specific anxiety disorders.


  • Ouellette, Mélise J
  • Rowa, Karen
  • Cameron, Duncan H
  • Elcock, Ashleigh
  • Soreni, Noam
  • Pawluk, Elizabeth J
  • McCabe, Randi E

publication date

  • November 8, 2022