RESEARCH – March 2021

Use of cannabis and mental health problems among youth and adults in Estonia

Authors: Liina Haring, Eero Vasar

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Background and aim. Recreational and nonmedical use of cannabis has spread globally. The objective of this study was to provide additional information about cannabis use among young people and adults in Estonia and to find out whether there is a significant difference in psychopathological symptom scores between cannabis users and nonusers.

Methods. The presented data were drawn from the research project AAA-survey („Ained ja arenevad ajud”, AAA-uuring or Drugs and Developing Brains survey). The web-based survey sample consisted of 4,922 individuals. The majority of the participants were high school or university students. The mean age of the sample was 21.4 years.

Results. Of the participants of the study sample, 43.0% had used cannabis during their lifetime, for the first time at the age of 17–18. However, according to the results, there was an increasing trend to use cannabis before the age of 16 when we formed subgroups according to the participants’ date of birth. Also, people who had used cannabis reported psychopathological symptoms more frequently than nonusers, as measured by the screening instrument for early detection of psychosis.

Discussion. The results indicate that in Estonia, the non-medical use of cannabis for the first time takes place increasingly at earlier ages and cannabis users are more likely to report mental health problems than are nonusers.