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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Adolescent marijuana use in the United States : an age-period-cohort analysis, 1991 to 2017 Gu, Jiaxin


Marijuana, the most widely used illicit drug in North America, has been a key focus of health-related social science research. Research shows that marijuana use among youth has increased in recent years with the gradual decriminalization and legalization of marijuana in the U.S. There is also evidence of disparities in frequency of adolescent marijuana use by gender, racial group, and socioeconomic status. Using the national representative Monitoring the Future annual survey from 1991 to 2017, this study investigates how marijuana use among middle-school and high-school students in the U.S. varies by gender, racial group, age group, time period, and birth cohort. Hierarchical Age-Period-Cohort Logistic method and multiple structural breaks in time series tests were used to illuminate temporal trends and identify vulnerable populations. The results reveal a steady increase in marijuana use in recent decades. Adolescents from four populations – male, non-Black, metropolitan residence, and low-educated parents – are at all-time high risks of using marijuana. Significant structural breaks identified in eight sub-groups coincide with economic recessions that severely hit the American economy, and adolescents from different socio-economic groups reacted differently during these periods. This study aims to raise awareness of the current high risks of adolescent marijuana use and to help parents, schools, and communities design and implement substance use prevention and intervention programs among adolescents.

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