Objectives: To estimate the prevalence of youth who use cannabis but have never been tobacco smokers and to assess the characteristics that differentiate them from those using both substances or neither substance.
Design: School survey.
Setting: Postmandatory schools.
Participants: A total of 5263 students (2439 females) aged 16 to 20 years divided into cannabis-only smokers (n = 455), cannabis and tobacco smokers (n = 1703), and abstainers (n = 3105).
Outcome measures: Regular tobacco and cannabis use; and personal, family, academic, and substance use characteristics.
Results: Compared with those using both substances, cannabis-only youth were younger (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 0.82) and more likely to be male (AOR, 2.19), to play sports (AOR, 1.64), to live with both parents (AOR, 1.33), to be students (AOR, 2.56), and to have good grades (AOR, 1.57) and less likely to have been drunk (AOR, 0.55), to have started using cannabis before the age of 15 years (AOR, 0.71), to have used cannabis more than once or twice in the previous month (AOR, 0.64), and to perceive their pubertal timing as early (AOR, 0.59). Compared with abstainers, they were more likely to be male (AOR, 2.10), to have a good relationship with friends (AOR, 1.62), to be sensation seeking (AOR, 1.32), and to practice sports (AOR, 1.37) and less likely to have a good relationship with their parents (AOR, 0.59). They were more likely to attend high school (AOR, 1.43), to skip class (AOR, 2.28), and to have been drunk (AOR, 2.54) or to have used illicit drugs (AOR, 2.28).
Conclusions: Cannabis-only adolescents show better functioning than those who also use tobacco. Compared with abstainers, they are more socially driven and do not seem to have psychosocial problems at a higher rate.