Methods: Data came from the CYDS sample and were collected in 2016 when participants were about 23 years old. Marijuana policy context was based on the state-level policy of participants’ place of residence at the time of the survey (i.e., legalized medical and nonmedical use [34.5%, n=586], legalized medical use only [7.1%, n=121], and not legalized [58.4%, n=993]). Analyses adjusted for variation in demographic characteristics of participants (gender, age, race, Latino ethnicity) and for clustering within their communities of origin by including 11 dummy variables indicating the communities in which they grew up. Logistic regression models examined associations between marijuana policy context, marijuana-specific risk factors, and marijuana use.
Results: YA living in states with more permissive marijuana policies (i.e., with legalized marijuana for medical and “recreational” use) perceived lower risk of harm from regular use (OR=.54, p<.01), greater ease of access to marijuana, more favorable injunctive norms (e.g., how wrong would it be to use; OR=2.02, p<.05) and less harm to children from seeing adult use in public (OR=.49, p<.01). They were also more likely to use marijuana in the past year (OR=1.72, p<.01) and had a higher likelihood of marijuana misuse (OR=1.67, p<.05) than YA who lived where marijuana use was illegal. The finding of lower risk perceptions, greater availability, and more favorable norms in more permissive legal context persisted even after accounting for the differences in the prevalence of marijuana use.
Conclusions: Future preventive interventions for YA who live in states with legalized marijuana should be universal, focusing on those who use as well as those who do not, go beyond teaching about harm of marijuana to users, and provide accurate information about additional risks and harms of use, particularly to children.