A new study published this week in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence found differences in medical marijuana usage rates among gay, lesbian, and bisexual patients compared to heterosexual patients. Namely, the LGB patients reported that they consumed more weed than heterosexual patients — by large margins.
The study drew data from the 2015-2017 National Survey on Drug Use conducted by the National Institutes of Health. The researchers analyzed responses from 126,463 American adults who resided in states with legal medical marijuana and states under total weed prohibition.
Among women, the researchers discovered that lesbian and bisexual women reported more frequent cannabis use than heterosexual women. While 10 percent of heterosexual women said they consumed medical weed within the past year, 26 percent of lesbian women said the same thing, while bisexual women eclipsed the other two groups at a whopping 40 percent.
The same pattern was reflected in daily use statistics. Only 1.5 percent of heterosexual women said they consumed medical cannabis every day. In contrast, 6 percent of lesbians and 10 percent of bisexual women said they got medicated on the daily.
"We further extended these findings to estimate daily/near-daily [marijuana use] prevalence, which was seven times higher among bisexual women than heterosexual women and 2.3 times as high for bisexual men compared to heterosexual men," stated Dr. Silvia Martins, an epidemiology professor and an author on the study, according to Science Daily.
As for the men, past-year marijuana use was reported by 17 percent of heterosexual men, 29 percent of gay men, and 30 percent of bisexual men. Meanwhile, 9 percent of bisexuals, 7 percent of gay men, and 4 percent of heterosexual men said they consumed every day.
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Why are LGB patients consuming more medical cannabis than their heterosexual peers? The researchers didn’t have a definitive answer, but they suspected it was due to the stress associated with the stigma of being queer.
“Our results support existing literature by demonstrating that bisexual women have higher marijuana use disorder compared to heterosexual women,” said Morgan Philbin, PhD, a sociomedical sciences professor at Columbia University and the study’s lead author. “This is part of a larger health burden, as bisexual women are twice as likely to have co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders, yet often have little contact with service providers.”
Gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, and transgender Americans endure more harassment and discrimination than heterosexual Americans. LGBT+ youth face higher rates of school bullying and homelessness than their heterosexual peers, and that trauma can carry into adulthood. Drug addiction, even to a relatively harmless drug like marijuana, is often associated with severe childhood trauma. LGB youth commit suicide at a rate three times higher than heterosexual youth, and that rate is even higher for transgender adolescents: 30 to 40 percent of transgender or non-binary teens said they have attempted suicide at least once.
Hate crimes against LGBT+ individuals have also steadily increased since 2014.
Of course, the scientists who conducted the study couched their language in terms like “marijuana use disorder” because they submitted their findings to an addiction journal, Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Addiction journals like studies that confirm a drug’s addictive potential, even when it’s miniscule, as in marijuana’s case. And while it’s true that America’s LGBTQ+ populations do face greater harassment, discrimination, and violence than sex-normative folks, could that be the only reason why more queer people are toking?
While weed definitely works wonders on alleviating stress, it’s also an excellent way to celebrate life. And if there’s one thing we queers do well, it’s being marvelously fabulous — and thoroughly lit — even as the world burns.
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