Marijuana use among youth decreases as marijuana prices and perceived harmfulness rise, conclude researchers from the UIC ImpacTeen Project and University of Michigan Youth Education and Society Project (YES!). Their recent study also assesses the extent to which trends in marijuana prices and perceptions of use risks predict cycles in youth marijuana use.
Marijuana use among high school seniors declined to a recorded low between 1981 and 1992, when price more than tripled. The trend reversed itself after 1992, when price fell by 16 percent.
The study shows that perceived risk of harm from marijuana use had a substantial impact on the reduction in marijuana use between 1981 and 1992 (as perceived risk rose) and in the subsequent increase in use after 1992 (as perceived risk declined). These conclusions, now taking price into account, are consistent with ones reached earlier by the University of Michigan investigators, who for years have argued the importance of perceived risk in explaining trends in the use of various drugs.
Complete findings are presented in the Bridging the Gap paper titled "Marijuana and Youth," found under "Papers and Presentations" at www.uic.edu/orgs/impacteen
"This is the first paper that uses nationally representative data to look at the impact of prices on youth marijuana use," said Frank Chaloupka, professor of economics at UIC and director of the UIC ImpacTeen Project.
Traditionally, researchers have not considered price as a determining factor in marijuana use among youth. The handful of studies that have examined the relationship between youth marijuana use and price relied on small, unrepresentative samples, Chaloupka explained.
The researchers recommend that further research be conducted to provide a more complete understanding of the relative impact of price and attitudes on youth marijuana use.