Associations of cannabis product source and subsequent cannabis use among adolescents

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2022 Apr 1:233:109374. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2022.109374. Epub 2022 Feb 25.


Background: Cannabis is obtained from a variety retail and illicit sources, with unknown implications for youth cannabis use. This study assessed whether source of obtaining cannabis was associated with future cannabis use among adolescents.

Methods: High-schoolers (N = 835) completed 3 semiannual surveys, reporting use of 7 cannabis sources (i.e., free, bought from someone, from an online dispensary, with a [valid/invalid] medical card, self-grown, or other; separate dichotomous exposure variables) at wave 1 (n = 621; M[SD] age=17.14[.40]) or wave 2 (n = 622; M[SD] age=17.51[.39]). Past-6-month (yes/no) and number of past-30-day (0-30) non-medical use of any cannabis product, combustible, edible, and vaporized cannabis, blunts, and concentrates (i.e., dabs) were reported at waves 2-3. Random-effect time-lagged repeated-measures regression was used to test longitudinal associations of youth's cannabis source (waves 1-2; time-varying exposure) with cannabis use outcomes 6 months later (waves 2-3).

Results: Most youth (72.1%) received cannabis for free; 50.9% bought cannabis from someone, 15.9% used a valid medical card at a brick-and-mortar dispensary, and 3.9% grew cannabis. Buying cannabis from someone (OR=1.46, 95% CI: 1.07-1.99, p = .02) or using a valid medical card (OR=1.99, 95% CI: 1.20-3.31, p = .008) conferred greater odds of any cannabis product use 6 months later. Buying from someone predicted subsequent past-30-day use frequency (RR=1.25, 95% CI:1.05-1.48, p = .01). Some associations between particular cannabis sources and products were observed.

Conclusions: Adolescents may access cannabis from several sources. Those who purchase cannabis illicitly from someone or from a brick-and-mortar dispensary using a valid medical card may be at increased risk for more persistent and frequent patterns of non-medical cannabis use.

Keywords: Adolescence; Cannabis; Dispensary; Medical card; Product availability; Sources.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Analgesics
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists
  • Cannabis* / adverse effects
  • Hallucinogens*
  • Humans
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Analgesics
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists
  • Hallucinogens