Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Caroline O. Cobb


Introduction: Rapid changes in cannabis use policy and prevalence, particularly among young adults, and the lack of information regarding cannabis harms warrant investigation regarding the daily use patterns of cannabis users. Little is known regarding how variability in cannabis use frequency and administration method use patterns may be associated with differential acute cannabis-related health effects (i.e., subjective intoxication and respiratory symptoms). The purpose of the study was to characterize daily and weekly cannabis use patterns and associated cannabis-related intoxication and respiratory symptoms and test the interactions of cannabis use frequency and cannabis administration method use on cannabis-related intoxication and respiratory symptoms among young adult heavy cannabis users

Methods: Participants included 27 young adults who used cannabis at least 5 days per week and were 18 to 25 years old. Participants were asked to complete two weeks of surveys sent to their cell phones three times daily. Assessments included cannabis use frequency (measured in hits), cannabis administration method use (classified into two groups: combusted methods [joint, blunt, bowl/pipe, bong] and combination methods [any of the previously listed methods and vaporizer or dab]), and cannabis-related intoxication (mental and physical high) and respiratory symptoms (coughing/wheezing, throat irritation, and phlegm/chest mucus). Data were analyzed using linear mixed models, a two-way analysis of variance, and a two-way analysis of covariance. All analyses were conducted using SPSS (p<0.05).

Results: Cannabis hits frequency, number of cannabis administration methods used, and cannabis-related intoxication were highest or most severe in the evenings. Day of week effects were not observed for any outcomes. High frequency cannabis users reported significantly higher cannabis-related intoxication symptoms compared to low frequency users. Among only those in the high frequency cannabis use group, combination administration method users reported significantly higher intoxication compared to combusted administration method users. No differences in respiratory symptoms among cannabis administration method sub-groups or use frequency sub-groups were observed.

Conclusions: Current study results inform interventionists, cannabis users, public health officials, and policy makers with the goal of reducing the negative health effects associated with cannabis use. Future research should measure cannabis-related intoxication effects in various ways to more fully understand cannabis impairment. The use of biological and behavioral measures in clinical and natural settings would aid this goal. Research on respiratory symptoms and cannabis use would benefit from the development of validated instruments, which measure acute cannabis-related respiratory symptoms. Overall, current study results act as a foundation for future researchers to examine further cannabis-related health effects among heavy cannabis users.


© Alyssa Rudy

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VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission