Trends in cannabis use among U.S. adults amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Savannah G. Brenneke, Courtney D. Nordeck, Kira E. Riehm, Ian Schmid, Kayla N. Tormohlen, Emily J. Smail, Renee M. Johnson, Luther G. Kalb, Elizabeth A. Stuart, Johannes Thrul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on mental health and alcohol use in the US, however there is little research on its impacts on cannabis use. Considering the role of cannabis as a coping strategy or self-medicating behavior, there is a need to understand how individuals who use cannabis have adapted their use amid the pandemic. Therefore, this study examined changes in self-reported cannabis use among US adults in the context of COVID-19 pandemic by (1) describing trends of use during the first 8 months of the pandemic among adults who used cannabis in this period; and (2) characterizing trends of use within sociodemographic subgroups and by state cannabis policy status. Methods: The sample consisted of 1,761 US adults who used cannabis at least once during the 8-month study period from the nationally representative Understanding America Study. Linear mixed-effect models were used to model changes in the number of days of past-week cannabis use across 16 waves from March 10, 2020, to November 11, 2020. Results: Compared to early March, the number of days cannabis was used per week was significantly higher at the start of April (β=0.11, 95% CI=0.03, 0.18) and May (β=0.21,95% CI=0.05, 0.36). In subsequent months (June - November), the number of days of cannabis use attenuated to levels comparable to March. Trends of cannabis use across the study period generally did not differ across sociodemographic characteristics and state cannabis policy status. Conclusion: Though increases in use were marginal among many groups, the evolving pandemic and the growing concern for the mental health of segments of the U.S. population warrant close monitoring of coping behaviors, including substance use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103517
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Cannabis
  • Marijuana
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • United States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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