Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Article Review 1

Marijuana Use and Depression

The study I will be using for my first article review is called Marijuana Use and Depression which was conducted by Brian E. Green and Christian Ritter.  I will use this study to help test my hypothesis:  Using marijuana helps to treat for stress and depression.
The goal of the study was to find an association between using marijuana and adult depressive symptomatology.  Variables being examined included “age of first marijuana initiation (values = age),” “frequency of current marijuana use (values = low, medium, high),” “the use of other licit and illicit drugs (values = yes and no),” and “whether marijuana was used to cope with problems (values = yes and no).”
Because of the differing reports of past studies on the effects of marijuana and depression – from showing that the effects of marijuana have little to no effect on depression to showing that marijuana users are more likely to experience symptoms of poor mental health – this study attempts to resolve the differing findings by exploring numerous aspects of marijuana usage.
The variables used come from the Young Men and Drugs Survey (n = 1,941).  Participants in the study were born between the years of 1944-1954. Because the study relied on a survey, the observational method was used in lieu of an interventionist one.

The sample was selected by using a “multistage stratified random sample of men” which was drawn from the Selective Service System.  The data was then collected using face-to-face interviews.  Participants were roughly between the ages of 65 and 75.  Measures used in the study include marijuana use, educational attainment, employment and marital status, other drug use, and depression. 
Results were shown through tables.

Table 1 showed that the mean number of times participants used marijuana in the past month to be 1.35.  37 percent never used marijuana, 8 percent used it before the age of 17, 55 percent used the drug after the age of 16, and 7 percent used marijuana to cope with their problems.  56 percent of the respondents used the drug in the last year but not to cope with problems.
Table 2 uses a hierarchical regression analysis using different models to intervene or control variables that could affect the relationship between depression and marijuana. 
The first model shows how early marijuana use affects depression.  The second and third models show the indirect effects of marijuana use on depression.  The fourth model includes current marijuana use to examine the effect it has on depression as well as assessing the mediating effect it could have on the relationship of early usage and depression, while the fifth and sixth models consider other drug use measures.  The final model controls for the use of marijuana to self-medicate for depression.
For the purpose of this assignment, I will focus on the seventh model.
The last model found that there was a significant association between using marijuana to cope and depression.  Users had an average of 3.33 higher on the depression index score than those that did not use marijuana to cope.  When using marijuana to treat for depression, frequency of usage significantly associated with depression in a negative direction.  However, the study found that people who use marijuana to cope with depression are generally more depressed than those who don’t.

TABLE 1.  Descriptive Statistics for the Primary Variables of the Study (n = 1,941)






Marijuana  Use Indicators

Marijuana use in the last month








(frequency;  31 = more than 30)
Early marijuana use
(three dummies)
Never used                                                            .37                           .48                           0
Used 16 or before                                                 :08                           .28                           0
Used after 16                                                        .55                           .50                           0
Using marijuana to cope

(three dummies)


Never used




Used but not to cope




Used to cope



Other Drug Use Indicators

Number of other drugs  used





Number of cigarettes  per day





Average days drink per week





Number of days used

stimulants  in the last year








Number of days used
sedatives in the last year                                         .41                        9.18                           0                            365
Number of days used
opiates  in the last year                                            .16                         3.22                           0                            100
Number of days used
cocaine in the last year
Educational Attainment
Employment  Status (I = employed)
Marital Status (I = married)
This study gave way to some interesting statistics about marijuana usage and depression.  However, I will need to conduct a lot more research to test my hypothesis:  Using marijuana helps to treat for stress and depression. 

The study showed that people who use marijuana to treat for depression actually have a higher depression index score.  However, the study didn’t adequately address the background information of already depressed people, though they did find a link between early usage and depression later on in life. 
As of now – using only the data collected in this study – my hypothesis would fail, although I am still skeptical on the dismissal of background information in the study as well as other limitations.   
One limitation of the study is that causal relationships could not be assessed because of the use of cross-sectional data.  Also, only men were sampled.  Third, cohort and period differences in these processes cannot be examined using the survey.
The study provided a lot of incite on the use of marijuana to cope with depression, but I need to do significantly more research to test my hypothesis.


  1. hi brendan I cannot see your review only the link. let me know whats wrong so i can leave a comment!

  2. Oh shoot...I actually didn't like my first review (the link that is up), because I found a more relevant article. When I redid the review, I forgot to hit "publish" for the second review after deleting the text from the first. My apologies. Let me know if you are still having problems seeing it.

  3. I find your topic very interesting, and I would like to see a study where it is actually interventional instead of observational. I like how you used pictures throughout your post, and I also like how you broke down the different parts of the article for your review. It makes it much easier to understand what they did, how they did it, and what they determined. I am excited to read more of your reviews.

  4. Hey Brendan I like this topic. I feel that it is certainly a hot button issue in America. I wished that you discussed the seventh model a little more. You just kind of mention just what they found in the seventh model briefly I would have like to have seen a little more data from it. You even say in your discussion portion of you post that model seven gave some interesting statistics about marijuana use and depression. I liked that you used pictures. Very cool. I look forward to reading more of your posts.