Community Mental Health Journal

, Volume 50, Issue 7, pp 823–830 | Cite as

Cannabis Use is a Better Indicator of Poor Mental Health in Women Than in Men: A Cross-Sectional Study in Young Adults from the General Population

  • W. A. van Gastel
  • J. H. MacCabe
  • C. D. Schubart
  • E. van Otterdijk
  • R. S. Kahn
  • M. P. M. Boks
Original Paper


Cannabis use is a known risk factor for a range of mental health problems, but less is known on the association with general mental health. We aim to explore the relationship between cannabis use and general mental health. We did a cross-sectional online survey of 1,929 young adults aged 18–30 years. Participants reported socio-demographic data, substance use and the Symptom Checklist-90 (SCL-90). Monthly cannabis use was associated with a higher total score on the SCL-90, both in a crude (OR 1.94, 95 % CI 1.57–2.38) and fully adjusted model (OR 1.48, 95 % CI 1.07–2.03). The association between cannabis and mental health was stronger in women and weekly users, and was independent of age at first use of cannabis. We conclude that moderate cannabis use is associated with general mental health problems in young adulthood. This relationship is independent of age at first use and of other risk factors, and is strongest in women.


Cannabis Mental health Risk Gender Effect modifier 


Conflict of interest

None of the authors has any conflict of interest which may arise from being named as an author on the manuscript or has received any (financial) support from pharmaceutical companies.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. A. van Gastel
    • 1
  • J. H. MacCabe
    • 2
  • C. D. Schubart
    • 3
  • E. van Otterdijk
    • 1
  • R. S. Kahn
    • 1
  • M. P. M. Boks
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, Brain Center Rudolf MagnusUniversity Medical Center UtrechtUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Psychosis Studies, Institute of PsychiatryKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryTergooi HospitalBlaricumThe Netherlands

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