LGBTQ women consume more cannabis than straight women do, according to a recent study.
Published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence last month, the study dives into the differences in how frequently lesbian, gay, and bisexual people consume pot. This study is one of the first to explore the weed habits of the LGBTQ community versus straight people. It relies on data from the 2015-2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health—which includes information from 126,463 individuals—to reach its conclusions. The authors, who hail from the Columbia Univesity Mailman School of Public Health, divided the survey’s data by gender and sexuality. The findings speak for themselves.
While about 10 percent of straight women surveyed used cannabis in the last year, about 40 percent of women did the same. Lesbian women didn’t seem to smoke as much cannabis as bisexual women, but they still consumed more than double that of straight women: 26 percent. If you look at daily use, the percentage of use among all women decreased significantly, but bisexual women still consume the most. The same goes for medical cannabis use. The study found similar trends among gay men. Bisexual and gay men used cannabis in the last year nearly twice the rate that straight men did, per the study.
“We further extended these findings to estimate daily/near-daily 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,” said senior author Silvia Martins, an associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University, in a press release.
The study looks at this usage to analyze “marijuana use disorder” specifically, noting that the LGBTQ community may be self-medicating the stress that comes with the stigma of, well, not being straight with cannabis in states where medical laws don’t yet exist. Bisexual women, in particular, may be impacted by medical cannabis laws given their high usage of the plant.
“Our results support existing literature by demonstrating that bisexual women have higher marijuana use disorder compared to heterosexual women,” said study author Morgan Philbin, an assistant professor of sociomedical sciences at Columbia, in a press release. “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.”
Bisexual women do suffer high mental health and substance abuse rates, but cannabis is a much smaller threat than, say, prescription drugs or alcohol, which can lead to actual overdoses. The study also doesn’t include any information on transgender individuals, who are among the most at-risk within the LGBTQ community. Further research on this population could better help inform these findings. Plus, people can always lie when they answer these surveys.
Could it be that fewer straight men and women are being honest about their love of pot?
While this study helps us better understand how different members of our society are exploring with cannabis, it does appear to raise the alarm about something that may be a non-issue. It doesn’t try to find out whether there’s any actual dependence on cannabis yet describes the usage as a disorder.
When members of the LGBTQ community are suffering deaths at the hands of violence and drugs that can actually kill, alarmist language around the smoking of a joint or ripping of a bong feels strangely inappropriate.