Gender Differences in the Correlates of Adolescents' Cannabis Use

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Andrew W. Tu, Pamela A. Ratner & Joy L. Johnson (2008) Gender Differences in the Correlates of Adolescents' Cannabis Use. Substance Use & Misuse, 43:10, 1438-1463, DOI: 10.1080/10826080802238140

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DOI: 10.1080/10826080802238140
Marijuana use
Risk factors
Mental health

Adolescents' gender-specific cannabis use rates and their correlates were examined. Data were obtained via a cross-sectional survey conducted in 2004 in British Columbia, Canada, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. School districts were invited to participate, and schools within consenting districts were recruited. In total, 8,225 students (50% male) from Grades 7 to 12 participated. About 73% were “White,” and 47% had used cannabis in their lifetime. Cannabis users were grouped according to their frequency of use: “never users,” “frequent users,” or “heavy users.” Male heavy cannabis users (14.3% of boys) were more likely to be in Grade 9 or higher; be Aboriginal; report poorer economic status; never feel like an outsider; frequently use alcohol and tobacco; and have lower satisfaction with family, friends, and school compared with boys that never used. Female heavy users (8.7% of girls) were more likely to be in a higher grade; report poorer economic status, mental health, and academic performance; frequently use alcohol and tobacco; and have lower satisfaction with their school compared with female never users. Three important gender differences in the multivariate analysis of the correlates of cannabis use were noted: school grade (for boys only), Aboriginal status (for boys only), and mental health (for girls only). Despite the limitations of relying on self-reports, a subset of youth appears to be at risk for excessive cannabis use that may impair life opportunities and health. The gender differences may be important in the design and implementation of prevention or treatment programs for adolescents.

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This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The moral rights of the named author(s) have been asserted.
Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
Centre for Addictions Research of BC
Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research