Sweetening the pot: Exploring differences between frequent gamblers who do and do not gamble under the influence of cannabis


The legalization of recreational cannabis for adults is becoming more common across the United States of America, as well as other counties around the world. Previous research has documented shared risk factors between cannabis use and gambling. Experimental studies have shown cognitive effects of cannabis that might influence gambling behavior. The current study explored demographics, gambling behaviors, and mental health differences based on the degree to which individuals use cannabis while they gamble. Individuals (N = 805) who gambled at least weekly completed an online survey. Thirty percent reported gambling under the influence of cannabis. Of these individuals, 41% reported using cannabis 25% of the time that they gambled, 31% reported being under the influence 50% of the time when gambling, 16% were under the influence 75% of the time when gambling, and 13% reported always or almost always gambling under the influence of cannabis. Those who reported gambling while under the influence of cannabis were more likely to be younger, non-white and non-heterosexual. They also reported higher levels of psychological distress, were more likely to have had a diagnosis of ADHD and a history of treatment for gambling, substance use, or other kinds of mental health concerns. Individuals who used cannabis while gambling also reported gambling more frequently than those who did not. This study provides one of the first explorations into who uses cannabis while gambling. Future experimental studies are required to investigate the direct effects of cannabis on gambling behaviors.

Publication Title

Addictive Behaviors