Background: The prevalence of medical marijuana diversion among adolescents in substance treatment and the relationship between medical marijuana diversion and marijuana attitudes, availability, peer disapproval, frequency of use and substance-related problems are not known.
Methods: 80 adolescents (15-19 years) in outpatient substance treatment in Denver, Colorado, completed an anonymous questionnaire developed for the study and the Drug Use Screening Inventory-Revised (DUSI-R). The proportion ever obtaining marijuana from someone with a medical marijuana license was calculated. Those ever obtaining marijuana from someone with a medical marijuana license were compared to those never obtaining medical marijuana with respect to marijuana attitudes, availability, peer disapproval, frequency of use, DUSI-R substance use problem and overall problem score using Chi-Square analyses and independent t-tests.
Results: 39 (48.8%) reported ever obtaining marijuana from someone with a medical marijuana license. A significantly greater proportion of those reporting medical marijuana diversion, compared to those who did not, reported very easy marijuana availability, no friend disapproval of regular marijuana use and greater than 20 times of marijuana use per month over the last year. The diversion group compared to the no diversion group also reported more substance use problems and overall problems on the DUSI-R.
Conclusions: Diversion of medical marijuana is common among adolescents in substance treatment. These data support a relationship between medical marijuana exposure and marijuana availability, social norms, frequency of use, substance-related problems and general problems among teens in substance treatment. Adolescent substance treatment should address the impact of medical marijuana on treatment outcomes.
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