Differentiating people who use cannabis heavily through latent class analysis

Arturo Alvarez-Roldan*, Teresa García-Muñoz, Juan F. Gamella, Iván Parra, Maria J. Duaso

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: People who use cannabis daily or near-daily vary considerably in their daily dosage and use frequency, impacting both experienced effects and adverse consequences. This study identified heavy cannabis user groups according to consumption patterns and factors associated with class membership. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study of 380 Spanish residents (61.8% male; average age = 30.3 years) who had used cannabis ≥ 3 days/week throughout the past year. Participants were recruited through chain referral and cannabis social clubs. We applied latent class analysis (LCA) to cluster participants according to use intensity. LCA indicators included frequency of weekly cannabis use, joints smoked each day, cannabis dosage, and if cannabis was consumed throughout the day or only at specific times. Associations between class membership and socio-demographics, use patterns, motives, supply sources, adverse outcomes, and use of other substances were measured using ANOVA and chi-squared tests. Multinomial regression identified the factors associated with latent class membership. Results: Three latent classes (moderately heavy: 21.8%, heavy: 68.2%, very heavy: 10%) had average weekly cannabis intakes of 2.4, 5.5, and 18.3 g, respectively. Very heavy users were older (Formula presented.), less educated (Formula presented.), and had used cannabis for longer (F = 4.62, p = 0.01). CAST scores (F = 26.51, p < 0.001) increased across the classes. The prevalence of past-month alcohol use was lower among the heaviest users (Formula presented.). Cannabis was usually obtained from a club by very heavy users (Formula presented.). Conclusions: People who use cannabis heavily present three groups according to frequency and quantity of cannabis consumption. Use intensity is associated with increased cannabis-related problems. Differences among heavy users must be considered in harm reduction interventions in cannabis clubs and indicated prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number31
JournalSubstance Abuse: Treatment, Prevention, and Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2023


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