The behavioural patterns of cannabis consumption in light and heavy users

First published: 10 May 2019 | Last updated: 20 May 2019

Aims: The current study aimed to explore the behavioural patterns of cannabis consumption by determining how these differ between light users (very little use) and heavy users (large quantities of use).

Design: A cross-sectional survey design was employed. A new questionnaire was developed in the current study which has been named the Cannabis Use and Lifestyles Form (CannaForm).

Setting: Participants completed the questionnaire in university campus grounds, public spaces, or in private residences.

Participants: 222 individuals were recruited with at least one lifetime use of cannabis (range= 1  –  18,250 uses) and between one and 17 years of cannabis use. Participants were mostly young (Mage =20.13, SD = 3.92) and female (69.7%).

Measurements: The primary variables of interest derived from the CannaForm were the methods of administration of cannabis, the desired level of intoxication of cannabis, the perception of cannabis strength, the number of sessions per day when using cannabis, and the perception of dependence to cannabis.

Findings and conclusions: After controlling for confounding variables, multiple and logistic regressions suggest that both greater lifetime cannabis use and years of cannabis use predict a greater (1) number of administration methods, (2) level of desired intoxication, (3) perceived strength of cannabis, (4) number of sessions per day, and (5) likelihood of self-diagnosis of dependence. Follow-up analyses explored these relationships in greater depth. Results are discussed with regards to the risk factors for cannabis use/abuse, and with regards to theories of cannabis use progression over time. The findings highlight the utility of the CannaForm for in depth investigations of cannabis use behaviours.


Dr Sue McHale, Sheffield Hallam University Dr Lynne Barker, Sheffield Hallam University Dr Lisa Reidy, Sheffield Hallam University

Conflicts of interest:

Sheffield Hallam University funded this work. No declaration of interest.


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Dr James Reynolds