Method: Data for the present study were from one of six questionnaire forms from the 2016 nationally-representative Monitoring the Future study of 12th graders in the United States (N=2100). Of those, 687 (32.7%) endorsed having used marijuana at least once in the past 12 months and were asked how it was obtained (took without asking from friends, took without asking from family, got for free from friends, got for free from family, bought from friends, bought from family, with own medical marijuana prescription, from another’s medical marijuana prescription, from a drug dealer/stranger, or other method). Participants with any missing data were excluded, leaving a final sample of 448 marijuana-using students. Logistic regression was used to predict modes of marijuana obtainment based on race/ethnicity, gender, urbanicity, and parental education.
Results: The most endorsed methods of obtaining marijuana were getting it for free from friends (59.15%), buying from friends (54.24%), and buying from a drug dealer/stranger (29.69%). Less endorsed methods included from medical marijuana prescriptions (2.90% own, 10.04% someone else’s). Females were more likely than males to get marijuana for free from a friend (OR=1.596, 95% CI [1.094-2.334]). Hispanic students were more likely to get it from their own medical marijuana prescription compared to White students (OR=4.719 [1.459-15.826]), and another person’s medical marijuana prescription compared to White (OR=2.277 [1.139-4.421]) or Black (OR=5.547 [1.625-28.859]) students. Finally, those from rural areas were more likely to obtain it in unspecified other ways compared to students in urban areas (OR=2.395 [1.064-6.014]). There were no significant findings related to parental education status (college-educated parent vs. not).
Discussion: These findings provide a more thorough understanding of adolescent marijuana use and have implications for personalized drug use prevention. By recognizing the ways in which subgroups of adolescents are more likely to acquire marijuana, drug use prevention efforts can be tailored to maximize effectiveness.