Year of Publication



Public Health

Date Available


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)

Committee Chair

Dr. Jay Christian

Committee Member

Dr. Kathleen Winter

Committee Member

Dr. April Young



Background and Objectives:

The purpose of this study was to assess cannabis use rates and modes among people who use cannabis (PWUC) in the state of Kentucky in relation to socioeconomic, demographic, and geographic factors. Furthermore, this study compared Kentucky’s rates of use to other states and built a multivariable regression model to identify characteristics of individuals who use cannabis in Kentucky.


For this cross-sectional descriptive analysis, we used 2020 data from the Kentucky Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). We tabulated weighted responses to questions asking about frequency of cannabis use over the past 30 days, primary mode of cannabis use, and reasons for cannabis use by demographic and socioeconomic factors.


The prevalence of cannabis use was slightly higher in males (12.1%) than females (8.7%). Age groups saw use rates consistent with national trends with those aged 18 to 34 most likely to use cannabis (16.9%), and those 55+ (5.1%) least likely. Education was marginally related to cannabis use rates, which ranged only from 8.9% (college degree or more) to 10.8% (high school or less). Those without healthcare coverage reported more use (18.4%) than those with healthcare coverage (9.6%). Those who made less than $25,000 (14.4%) and less than $50,000 (11.2%) had higher rates of use than those who made $50,000 or more (9.8%). Marital status was consistent among all groups except for Never Married reporting the most use (17.2%). Cannabis use rates were lowest in whites (9.1%) and highest in blacks (21.6%). Residents of Kentucky’s Appalachian region were slightly less likely to use cannabis compared to elsewhere in the state (8.8% vs. 11.8%),


Cannabis use in Kentucky matches national trends and trends in states where cannabis is legal. Despite the illegal status of cannabis, its use remains relatively common across socioeconomic and demographic groups. It is likely that use of cannabis and preferred modes of use—especially non-smoking modes—will continue to follow national trends, regardless of its status in Kentucky

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