In this series of article reviews, we will dissect the latest research papers important to mental health education and advocacy.

September 4, 2023 – 8 min read

Today, we will be reviewing the paper Exploring the association between cannabis use and depression by Louisa DegenhardtWayne Hall, and Michael Lynskey.

Introduction to Article

In 2003, Degenhrdt, Hall, and Langsky studied cannabis use disorder and depression. The authors conducted this study in response to the relative lack of analysis drawing a link between problematic cannabis use and depression. This lack of analysis is because those who are depressed are less likely to receive attention from healthcare providers and scholars than others. The article seeks to explain whether there is a link between problematic cannabis use and depression and, if such a link exists, how that can be explained, as well as the public health implications and the type of evidence needed to test these assertions.


The authors reviewed several studies that utilized longitudinal studies that followed a cohort of youths over an extended period and extensive survey data (i.e., the Australian National Survey of  Mental Health and Well-being).


The review of relevant studies had mixed results. While there was often an initial link between early-onset problematic cannabis use and depression, the findings were not usually robust. Once other factors were controlled for (i.e., use of other drugs and alcohol, socioeconomic factors), the association lost significance. Additionally, there was little evidence that depression would cause cannabis dependence disorder. Overall, the mixed results of the studies indicate that further research is required to determine the connections between cannabis dependence and depression.

ARE U Takeaways

  • Since this study was a literature review, there was a lack of consensus concerning the definition of depression and cannabis dependence.
  • Some studies defined depression as exhibiting multiple disorder symptoms as listed in the DSM. In contrast, others used a cut-off score based on a depression questionnaire.
  • Keep in mind that cannabis dependence was typically defined by the use of cannabis at least ten times per month. Still, this definition was not always clearly outlined in all studies reviewed.
  • For better or worse, marijuana consumption has been increasing across all age levels in the United States, including the working population.
  • Employees often cope with difficult personal or professional situations through marijuana use. It is critical to understand what effect this habit has on employees’ mental health and how substances like those are used as a coping mechanism.


Degenhardt, L., Hall, W. and Lynskey, M. (2003), Exploring the association between cannabis use and depression. Addiction, 98: 1493-1504.