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Cannabis use disorder: Clinical features and diagnosis

Robert L DuPont, MD
John A Bailey, MD
Scott A Teitelbaum, MD
Section Editor
Andrew J Saxon, MD
Deputy Editor
Richard Hermann, MD


Cannabis is the most commonly used illegal substance worldwide [1]. Approximately 160 million people, or approximately four percent of the world’s population between the ages of 15 and 64 years, have been estimated to use cannabis at least once in the past year.

The psychoactive properties of cannabis are primarily due to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) [2]. The THC content of marijuana has increased significantly since the late 1960s from approximately 1 to 5 percent to as much as 10 to 15 percent [3]. This increased potency may contribute to increased rates of cannabis use disorder.

The psychiatric diagnoses, cannabis abuse and cannabis dependence, in DSM-IV-TR were replaced by one diagnosis, cannabis use disorder, in DSM-5 [4].

The clinical features and diagnosis of cannabis use disorder in adults are reviewed here. Other issues related to cannabis use disorder are discussed separately. Acute cannabis intoxication is also discussed separately. Treatment of medical conditions such as chemotherapy-induced emesis and cancer pain with cannabinoids are discussed separately. (See "Cannabis use disorder: Epidemiology, comorbidity, and pathogenesis" and "Substance use disorder: Principles for recognition and assessment in general medical care" and "Cannabis use disorder: Treatment, prognosis, and long-term medical effects" and "Cannabis (marijuana): Acute intoxication".)


Intoxication — The clinical presentation of cannabis intoxication is described separately. (See "Cannabis (marijuana): Acute intoxication" and "Cannabis (marijuana): Acute intoxication", section on 'Clinical manifestations'.)


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Dec 3, 2014.
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