Young Adult Cannabis Users’ Perceptions of Cannabis Risks and Benefits by Chronic Pain Status

Bethany Shorey Fennell, Renee E. Magnan, Benjamin O. Ladd, Jessica L. Fales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose: Young adults experiencing chronic pain may self-medicate with cannabis. We examined perceived risks and benefits of cannabis use among young adult users by chronic pain status, and identified relationships among perceived risks and benefits, physical and mental health, and cannabis-related problems. Methods: Young adults reporting at least weekly cannabis use (N = 176, 50.9% with chronic pain) reported perceptions of lifetime risks and benefits associated with cannabis use, physical and mental health, and cannabis-related problems. Results: Young adults without chronic pain reported better physical and mental health than those with chronic pain. Cannabis use, problems, and risk and benefit perceptions did not differ by pain status. Risk and benefit perceptions were unrelated to physical health, perceiving fewer risks and more benefits was associated with better mental health, and perceiving more risk was associated with cannabis problems. Chronic pain status moderated the relationship between perceived benefits and outcomes, such that perceiving more benefits was associated with better physical health for those without chronic pain. Further, greater perceived benefits were associated with more cannabis-related problems for those without chronic pain but fewer problems for those with chronic pain. Conclusion: This study offers insight into the perceptions of risks and benefits among young adult cannabis users and associations with physical and mental health and cannabis-related problems. The effects of perceived benefits on physical health and cannabis-related problems differs for young adults with and without pain, suggesting assessment and consideration of pain status may be valuable in intervention contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1647-1652
Number of pages6
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Cannabis
  • benefits
  • chronic pain
  • mental health
  • physical health
  • risks
  • young adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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