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Racial/Ethnic Differences in 30-Year Trajectories of Cannabis Use among Males

NCJ Number
Substance Use & Misuse Dated: 2021
Date Published

This study examined racial/ethnic differences in cannabis-use trajectories among males across two overlapping stages of the life course.


Given that cannabis is the most commonly used illicit substance in the United States, continuous research on patterns of cannabis use over the life course can help to ensure progress in improving public health and reducing health inequalities across race/ethnicity. We use data from two companion studies, the Rochester Youth Development Study (RYDS – a longitudinal cohort study that followed participants from adolescence into adulthood), and its intergenerational extension – the Rochester Intergenerational Study. For Life Stage 1, we consider cannabis use during the transition from adolescence to adulthood (spanning ages 13 to 33; 439 Black, 128 White, and 125 Hispanic males). Among these males who became fathers, cannabis use is considered during fatherhood (Life Stage 2 —spanning the period  when their firstborn child was between the ages of 7 and 17—217 Black, 55 White, and 56 Hispanic males). Ordinal generalized estimating equations were specified to examine cannabis-use trajectories during both stages of the males’ lives. The study found no significant differences in cannabis use as a function of racial/ethnic group during the transition from adolescence to adulthood (Life Stage 1). All groups had a peak of cannabis use in the early to mid-20’s followed by a decline in use. During fatherhood (Life Stage 2), cannabis use was stable for all groups, but Black fathers reported more frequent cannabis use on average than Hispanic fathers. The study concluded  that the increase in cannabis use well past adolescence for all groups suggests the potential importance of intervention initiatives during the transition to adulthood. The more frequent use of cannabis by Black fathers warrants further study, given the impact parental cannabis use can have on offspring. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2021