Reasons for Marijuana Use Among Young Adults and Long-Term Associations With Marijuana Use and Problems

J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2016 Nov;77(6):881-888. doi: 10.15288/jsad.2016.77.881.


Objective: This study examines reasons for marijuana use among young adults age 19/20 in the United States and the extent to which patterns of reasons are associated with marijuana use and problems 15 years later.

Method: The national Monitoring the Future study provided data on marijuana users at age 19/20 who were also surveyed at age 35 (n = 2,288; 50% women; 83% White). Latent class analysis was used to identify distinct patterns of reasons for marijuana use, which were then used as predictors of later marijuana use and problems.

Results: Five latent classes described the following patterns of reasons for marijuana use at age 19/20: Experimental, Get High + Relax, Typical, Typical + Escape, and Coping + Drug Use. Highest risk for later marijuana use and problems was found for people with Coping + Drug Use and Get High + Relax reasons in young adulthood; those with Experimental reasons were at lowest risk for later use or problems.

Conclusions: Coping and getting high emerged as strong predictors of later marijuana use and problems. Results support the predictive value of self-reported reasons for using marijuana among young adults.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking / psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Young Adult