Objectives: The purpose of this study was to assess the relation of early adolescent marijuana use to late adolescent problem behaviors, drug-related attitudes, drug problems, and sibling and peer problem behavior.
Methods: African American (n = 627) and Puerto Rican (n = 555) youths completed questionnaires in their classrooms initially and were individually interviewed 5 years later. Logistic regression analysis estimated increases in the risk of behaviors or attitudes in late adolescence associated with more frequent marijuana use in early adolescence.
Results: Early adolescent marijuana use increased the risk in late adolescence of not graduating from high school; delinquency; having multiple sexual partners; not always using condoms; perceiving drugs as not harmful; having problems with cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana; and having more friends who exhibit deviant behavior. These relations were maintained with controls for age, sex, ethnicity, and, when available, earlier psychosocial measures.
Conclusions: Early adolescent marijuana use is related to later adolescent problems that limit the acquisition of skills necessary for employment and heighten the risks of contracting HIV and abusing legal and illegal substances. Hence, assessments of and treatments for adolescent marijuana use need to be incorporated in clinical practice.