Teens Who’ve Tried Marijuana Have Used it in More Than One Form

Source: University of Southern California

Summary: New research shows that most teens who’ve tried marijuana have used the drug in more than one form, including cannabis products that are smoked, eaten or vaped.

Cannabis use in adolescence increases risk for chronic use throughout adulthood, addiction and impaired cognitive development. In recent years, there’s been a shift in teens’ perception. Legalization and commercialization of cannabis are fostering the perception that this drug is not harmful. In a survey of 3,177 10th-graders from the Los Angeles area, researchers collected data via questionnaires at 10 Los Angeles area high schools from January to October 2015 – three years before California’s 2018 legalization of recreational marijuana. Tenth-graders were asked, “Have you ever used the following substances in your life?” Combustible cannabis was worded as “smoking marijuana” (or weed, hash, reefer or bud); vaping was worded as liquid pot, dabbing or weed pen; edible marijuana included drinks infused with THC (the psychoactive compound in cannabis), brownies, butter and oil. The study findings were published in the journal JAMA Network Open.


Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Of the 33.9 percent of students who reported ever using cannabis, smoking it was the most popular, followed by cannabis products that were edible or vaporized. Most 10th-graders (61.7 percent) who had ever used cannabis used multiple products to administer the drug. Notably, 7.8 percent of cannabis “ever users” had never smoked pot, but instead ingested cannabis via edibles or vaping. This study, supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (R01-DA033296), is part of an ongoing project looking at patterns of substance use and mental health over time. Leventhal’s previous survey studies have found digital media use is linked to behavioral and attention problems in kids, and that higher concentrations of nicotine in vaping liquid used by teens is associated with traditional cigarette use.

Prof. Adam Leventhal said, “A key question is whether a new pool of teens who’ve traditionally been at lower risk for smoking marijuana have been drawn to using the drug in these alternative non-smoked forms.”

More Information: Erica N. Peters et al, “Prevalence and Sociodemographic Correlates of Adolescent Use and Polyuse of Combustible, Vaporized, and Edible Cannabis Products”, JAMA Network Open (2018). DOI:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.2765

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