Methods: Three focus groups were conducted (n= 10, 10, & 9) with adult Latina seasonal workers in South Florida. Audio-recordings were coded and analyzed using manual review and ATLAS.ti. Four researchers independently identified analytic themes and performed inter-coder reliability analysis. A second expert panel (N= 8) provided their insights on the analytical themes.
Results: Marijuana use among children, but not adults, has increased in this community over the past five years. Participants expressed concern over their children’s use of marijuana at young ages (e.g., eight years old) and their involvement in selling marijuana. Children use marijuana when their parents are at work. Most mothers have inadequate parental skills to enforce rules regarding alcohol and marijuana use. Participants reported the presence of social networks for marijuana use configured near schools and bus stations and social networks for alcohol use configured around gas stations. Marijuana is sold in some schools. Marijuana use is more common in boys than girls. Although the parents are aware of children’s drug habits and illegal marijuana sales, they do not report the problem due to fear of deportation. Participants viewed marijuana as a gateway drug, resulting in abuse of other substances (e.g., alcohol) and non-medical use of prescription medications. Participants reported that the poorer school performance, which was attributed to marijuana and alcohol use by their children, has led to ineligibility to participate in sport activities at schools.
Conclusions: Childhood marijuana use in this community is a result of dynamic interrelations among personal and social environmental factors. It is necessary to identify key stakeholders who could be agents of change while implementing a model intervention to reduce the social and health consequences of marijuana use in children. Federal and local governmental authorities should consider the negative consequences of marijuana use in current marijuana legislation discussions.