Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

Understanding responsible cannabis use

St-Jean, R., Stefaniak, A., Salmon, M. M., Tabri, N., Wood, R. T. A., & Wohl, M. J. A.

The aim of this study was to review existing knowledge on responsible cannabis use and create a scale to measure related beliefs and behaviours. There were two phases to the study. In Phase I, the researchers conducted a rapid evidence assessment of existing research. The search yielded 1,887 articles, of which nine studies were deemed relevant and analyzed for their content. From this review, the researchers developed an initial scale with 69 items. In Phase II, the researchers administered the scale to 510 Canadians who used cannabis through an online survey. The data were used to explore the structure of the scale and its validity. To further refine the scale, the researchers administered a revised scale to 1,008 Canadians who used cannabis in a second online survey.

The above analyses led to the creation of the Cannabis Lower-Risk Scale (CaLRS). The CaLRS has 21 items and captures six dimensions of responsible cannabis use. Three dimensions pertain to beliefs around responsible use and include (1) stigma reduction (i.e., addressing stigma around cannabis use and increasing its social acceptability); (2) informed self-regulation (i.e., knowing how to use cannabis safely); and (3) personal awareness (i.e., believing that cannabis use does not define who a person is). The other three dimensions pertain to behaviours and focus on (1) honesty (i.e., being honest with oneself and other people about cannabis use); (2) limit setting (i.e., limiting the amount and frequency of cannabis use); and (3) positive protective strategies (i.e., using cannabis in ways that keep it safe). The CaLRS is the first evidence-based tool that will allow both researchers and practitioners to assess the prevalence of responsible use among cannabis consumers.


St-Jean, R., Dowson, M. E., Stefaniak, A., Salmon, M. M., Tabri, N., Wood, R., T. A., & Wohl, M. J. A. (2022). Understanding lower-risk cannabis consumption from the consumers' perspective: A rapid evidence assessment. Substance use & misuse, 57(13), 1997–2007.

St-Jean, R., Stefaniak, A., Salmon, M. M., Tabri, N., Wood, R. T. A., & Wohl, M. J. A. (2022). The Cannabis Lower-Risk Scale: Psychometric validation of a multidimensional measure of lower-risk cannabis beliefs and behaviors. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction.

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