Can Weed be Addictive?

As a cannabis enthusiast and an aspiring entrepreneur in this industry, this is a question that I ponder on a daily basis. On the one hand, while I’m not the most health-conscious person out there, I do care about what I put in my body (hoping to make it past 60 you know). On the other hand, I want to start an ethical and socially equitable business. Sure, most of us don’t want to be another Sackler who started a nationwide opioid crisis. But more importantly, I want to start a business that I can be proud of, one that does more good than harm.

As a believer of science and like a typical grad student, I went to the library (figuratively) and looked for scientific research on cannabis addiction. TLDR: In health sciences, it’s possible that the existence and extent of cannabis addiction is presumed to be true and isn’t critically questioned. Sound like it’s bad news? Beware, research on this topic is extremely limited and one-sided. So just like what I would advise as you read this article: Take everything with a grain of salt!

What Does the Research Say?

I painstakingly combed through a number of research papers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and summarized a few key findings:

  • “Among people who used cannabis, 22% (18-26%) have cannabis use disorder, 13% (8-18%) have cannabis abuse, and 13% (10-15%) have cannabis dependence. Estimates from cohort studies showed that the risk of developing cannabis dependence increased to 33% (22-44%) among young people who engaged in regular (weekly or daily) use of cannabis. However, note that there was a lack of data from cohort studies to estimate the risk of cannabis use disorder or cannabis abuse among regular cannabis users.” (link)

  • “Cannabis withdrawal syndrome appears to be prevalent among regular users of cannabis.” (link)

  • Marijuana substance abuse treatment admissions have been on the rise but rema