That a qualitative study of a subset of 20 kids has gotten so much attention and led to headlines like, “Teens Use Pot to Treat Health Problems“, “Some teens smoke pot for medical needs“, “Herbal Remedy: Teens Often Use Cannabis For Relief, Not Recreation, Study Finds” and “Some teens smoke pot for their health” is ridiculous. Of course, this will influence the assumptions of researchers and clinicians and yield more of the same.
My inbox has been bombarded with stories based on this study. The qualitative study consisted of 20 (Yes, 20.) kids who were a subset of 63 and their reported reasons for smoking pot. These 20 were a subset of 63 pot smoking kids participating in a larger study. A quick read of the study reveals that the authors uncritically accept the premise that marijuana is an effective treatment for a myriad of problems and their citations reflect a bias for self-medication theories. The study looks like a conclusion in search of evidence. The reported reasons for use of marijuana by these kids included depression (6), stress/anxiety (12), sleep problems (9), focus/concentration (3) and physical pain (5). There was no confirmation of any prior diagnosis or treatment and no assessment and diagnosis as part of the study.