“The biggest problem with using cannabis is that it changes for each person. Some people smoke it daily, while others use it once a month. What’s important about this chart is that it shows that the amount of cannabis used and the amount of cannabis used in the previous month change quite a bit throughout the year. If researchers could learn more about what causes this fluctuation, it could provide more insight on how to best integrate the drug into the medical community.”
The year-round marijuana busts are usually pretty dramatic, with huge spikes in use around July 4th each year. However, according to a new study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it’s not the holiday, but the current season that has the biggest impact on marijuana use.
According to a recent study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, cannabis use increases by an average of 13% between the beginning and end of the year. In addition to New Year’s resolutions, seasonal fluctuations also seem to influence the increase in consumption. Dr. Joseph Palamar explains: We think this is partly due to the dry month of January, when some people abstain from alcohol or even marijuana as part of a New Year’s resolution.
Seasons can influence substance use
Dr. Joseph Palamar is an associate professor at the Grossman School of Medicine at New York University, a researcher at the Center for the Study of Drug Use and HIV/HCV at New York University’s School of Global Public Health, and lead author of this study. As an example of how seasonal variations can affect substance use, the study notes that previous research has found that alcohol and drug use varies seasonally, with drug use often increasing in the summer months, which may be related in part to social events. Another example is university alcohol restriction programs, which usually begin in the summer. To better understand the seasonal patterns of cannabis use, Dr. Palamar and his research team analyzed data from 282,768 adolescents and adults. These participants participated in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2015 to 2019. The survey consisted of a series of questions about cannabis use in each calendar quarter, grouped by time period: From January to March, from April to June, from July to September and from October to December. Seasonal patterns were evident regardless of gender, ethnicity, or education level. The study also found that adolescent cannabis use increased in the summer and decreased in the winter and spring. The average increase of 13% between quarters is independent of the year-on-year growth in consumption. The study suggests that recreational use may be responsible for the increase over last year, as similar small increases were observed among residents of states with and without legal medical marijuana, and among residents without a prescription for medical marijuana. As for the decrease in winter consumption, several factors may contribute to it, including B. a reduction in the available supply of cannabis, the cessation or reduction of cannabis use in the New Year’s program, and the time of year when people do not leave their homes.
Researchers should account for seasonal variation to get the best results
Austin Le, co-author of the study, says the ultimate hope is that these results can be used by researchers and clinicians alike, and that researchers studying marijuana use should take seasonal variations into account, as surveys conducted at the end of the year may yield different results than surveys conducted at the beginning of the year. And for those looking to reduce marijuana use, perhaps the best time to do this targeted work is at the end of the year, when marijuana use is at its peak. In addition, the study found that cannabis use increased more among users of other substances, including LSD. In addition to the study’s authors, Palamar and Le, Benjamin Hahn of the University of California also assisted. This study by Dr. Palamar and his team was funded by the NIDA, an organization that seeks to classify all drug use as pathological. Since the results of the study will help determine the best time to conduct anti-drug campaigns or the best time to stop using cannabis, it makes sense for NIDA to fund such a study.
There are still some inconsistencies
New Frontier Data examined how seasonality affects demand for cannabis in America and found that vaping products remain fairly constant throughout the year, with minimal seasonality, and that topicals and tinctures seem to be fairly counter-cyclical, with spending increasing as spending on flower, vapes and extracts decreases. They also found that, despite fluctuations over time, food expenditure is fairly constant. They also explained that retailers and suppliers can use this data in a variety of ways, but primarily to identify the months with the highest demand and spending and increase supply in those months to maximize their sales. In addition, retailers will strategically adjust their prices to drive demand and avoid unused inventory. Palamar’s research led to the following conclusions:
- Seasonal variations in cannabis use are independent of annual growth.
- Quarterly growth peaks in the fourth quarter and declines in the first quarter.
- It is not the medicinal use of cannabis that determines such fluctuations in use between seasons, but recreational use.
- Recreational cannabis users who also use other drugs, including LSD, also contribute to the seasonal increase in use.
- Finally, any researcher estimating the prevalence of cannabis use should also consider the influence of the time of year.
Whether this data is used to determine the best time to conduct drug enforcement campaigns or to provide retailers and suppliers with inventory and pricing data, it remains valuable information for cannabis researchers and consumers. Chane Ley, aka Button Fairy, is a South African cannabis advocate and enthusiast with an infectious personality and a great love of travel. She loves to educate people and challenge standards.
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