Awareness, Perception of Risk and Behaviors Related to Retail Marijuana Among a Sample of Colorado Youth

J Community Health. 2017 Apr;42(2):278-286. doi: 10.1007/s10900-016-0253-z.


Youth marijuana use is a growing concern with increasingly permissive views towards marijuana use. Little is known about attitudes and beliefs toward marijuana use among youth in the context of legalization. This study describes youth attitudes and beliefs about health risks associated with marijuana use, social norms of peer use, conversations with parents about marijuana use, and knowledge of recreational marijuana laws, using a venue-day-time sampling approach with diverse Colorado youth (n = 241) post-legalization. We considered demographic (gender, racial/ethnic and geographic) differences in knowledge of laws and perceptions of risk using bivariate and multivariate analyses. While many youth are knowledgeable about retail marijuana laws in Colorado, males were 2.12 times more likely to be familiar with laws compared to females. While 40 % of the sample perceived a moderate to high risk from weekly marijuana consumption and 57 % from daily consumption, fewer males perceived these risks. Over ¾ of the sample indicate they discuss marijuana with parents, but many fewer indicate discussing consequences and health effects of use with parents. Results suggest opportunities for parents and clinicians to influence youth attitudes and behaviors towards marijuana use. It may be worthwhile to target educational campaigns to different demographic groups, and to offer training and capacity building for parents to discuss marijuana with their teenaged children.

Keywords: Adolescents; Marijuana behaviors; Recreational marijuana use.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Colorado
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Use / adverse effects
  • Marijuana Use / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Marijuana Use / psychology*
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires