Perception and practices regarding cannabis consumption in Karachi, Pakistan: A cross-sectional study

Document Type



Internal Medicine


Several studies have been carried out regarding the awareness and usage of cannabis around the world, especially in developed countries. Pakistan ranks amongst the top nations in regards to cannabis consumption. However, the amount of literature shedding light on people's perception, knowledge and practices are scarce. Therefore, the authors sought to establish a baseline study to ignite the discussion on the possibility of cannabis' induction in the medical field in Pakistan, and additionally provide a foundation for further research. The purpose of this study was to investigate the level of understanding and consumption practices in Karachi with respondents from different socio-economic backgrounds, age groups and gender regarding cannabis use and assessing the awareness of the general population. The null hypothesis is that the usage of cannabis does not have a significant correlation with age, gender, or socio-economic status of a population. We conducted a cross-sectional study in November 2018 using convenience sampling and interviewed 518 individuals for their gender, age, and socio-economic status, to determine their knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding cannabis usage. The participants were questioned about their knowledge and its source. Attitudes were judged using three and five-point Likert scales while questions regarding practices centered upon the past and current usage of cannabis. One-way analysis of variance and chi-square tests were used as the primary statistical tests. Out of the 518 people who responded, more than half of the respondents were males (n = 340, 65.6%). The majority was familiar with the use of cannabis (n = 514, 99.2%), and the different ways in which it is consumed (n = 435, 84%). About one-third of the participants happened to consume cannabis (n = 168, 32.4%), and a quarter mentioned recreational use/curiosity as the principal reason (n = 134, 25.9%). Majority of the respondents agreed upon the harmful effects of consuming cannabis (n = 364, 70.3%), while when compared to other inimical drugs, half of them believed it to be less harmful (n = 259, 50%). Besides, an overwhelming majority stated, that if they were to consume cannabis, they would not consider taking permission from their parents/guardians (n = 441, 85.2%). Concerning legality, three-fifths of the participants chose cannabis to remain illegal in Pakistan (n = 307, 59.3%) and, for not consuming/quitting cannabis, the primary reason chosen was its harmful consequences (n = 210, 40.5%). Our study revealed that knowledge about usage of cannabis still requires a great deal of attention. Only individuals from higher socio-economic backgrounds have a positive attitude towards cannabis usage and are aware of it. There is an urgent need for awareness programs that especially reach out to the lower socio-economic status population, who otherwise do not have access to essential information resources. We also found that males were more likely to be consumers and to have more knowledge about cannabis, therefore, it is equally important to educate females about this topic so that an informed discussion about cannabis use and its medical benefits can be generated in Pakistan.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse