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Gender Differences in Adolescent Marijuana Use and Associated Psychosocial Characteristics

Schepis, Ty S. PhD; Desai, Rani A. PhD; Cavallo, Dana A. PhD; Smith, Anne E. PhD; McFetridge, Amanda BS; Liss, Thomas B. BS; Potenza, Marc N. MD, PhD; Krishnan-Sarin, Suchitra PhD

Journal of Addiction Medicine: March 2011 - Volume 5 - Issue 1 - p 65-73
doi: 10.1097/ADM.0b013e3181d8dc62
Original Research

Marijuana use in adolescents is associated with many adverse outcomes, including neurobiological and health consequences. Despite this, little is known about gender differences in the correlates of adolescent marijuana use. This study attempted to fill this gap by examining gender differences in the correlates of lifetime and past 30-day marijuana use. Data from a cross-sectional statewide survey of adolescent risk behavior participation in Connecticut were analyzed using χ2 and hierarchical logistic regression methodologies to examine the demographic, psychosocial, and risk behavior correlates of adolescent marijuana use. Gender-by-trait interactions were tested with hierarchical logistic regression. Of the 4523 participants (51.8% females, 75.8% white), 40.4% endorsed lifetime marijuana use and 24.5% endorsed past 30-day marijuana use. Risk behavior participation, particularly other substance use, had the most robust associations with lifetime and past 30-day adolescent marijuana use; participation in extracurricular activities seemed protective. Gender interactions were observed for African American, Asian, or other race and participation in extracurricular activities; in these 3 cases, males had a greater likelihood of use. They were also observed for having a job (lifetime use only), with females having elevated odds, and past 30-day cigarette smoking (past 30-day use only), with males having elevated odds. Finally, there was preliminary evidence of a faster transition from initiation of marijuana use to regular use in females, when compared with males. These results indicate important gender differences in the correlates of marijuana use in adolescents, and these findings may facilitate the development of gender-informed prevention and early intervention programs for adolescent marijuana use.

From the Division of Substance Abuse, Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT.

Received for publication October 8, 2009; accepted February 8, 2010.

Send correspondence and reprint requests to Ty S. Schepis, PhD, Department of Psychology, Texas State University, 601 University Drive, San Marcos, TX 78666. e-mail:

Supported by NIH grants P50 AA15632, P50 DA09421, P50 DA016556, RL1 AA017539, R01 DA019039, and T32 DA07238 and by the State of Connecticut.

© 2011 American Society of Addiction Medicine