Transcultural aspects of cannabis use: a descriptive overview of cannabis use across cultures

Parnian Rafei*, Amir Englund, Valentina Lorenzetti, Hussien Elkholy, Marc N. Potenza, Alexander M. Baldacchino

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose of Review

This narrative review summarises cultural aspects of cannabis use across different (sub)cultures, nations, and gender, racial, and ethnic groups. Specifically, we aimed to overview historical and traditional contexts of cannabis use and physical and mental health-related correlates, as well as emerging cannabis-related policies and their impacts on medicinal and recreational use of cannabis. In addition, we discuss how cultural factors may affect cannabis use behaviours and sociocultural underpinnings of cannabis use disorder trajectories. 

Recent Findings

Cannabis is the most widely cultivated, trafficked, and used illicit drug worldwide, although cannabis is being legalised in many jurisdictions. More than 4% of individuals globally have used cannabis in the last year. Being traditionally used for religious and ritualistic purposes, today cannabis use is interwoven with, and influenced by, social, legal, economic, and cultural environments which often differ across countries and cultures. Notably, empirical data on distinct aspects of cannabis use are lacking in selected underrepresented countries, geographical regions, and minority groups. 


Emerging global policies and legislative frameworks related to cannabis use have impacted the prevalence and attitudes toward cannabis in different subcultures, but not all in the same way. Therefore, it remains to be elucidated how and why distinct cultures differ in terms of cannabis use. In order to understand complex and bidirectional relationships between cannabis use and cultures, we recommend the use of cross-cultural frameworks for the study of cannabis use and its consequences and to inform vulnerable people, clinical practitioners, and legislators from different world regions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)458-471
Number of pages14
JournalCurrent Addiction Reports
Early online date30 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023


  • Addictive behaviours
  • Cannabis
  • Cannabis use disorder
  • Cross-cultural
  • Culture
  • Drug policy


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