Associations of alternative cannabis product use and poly-use with subsequent illicit drug use initiation during adolescence

Jessica L. Braymiller, Kira E. Riehm, Madeline Meier, Evan A. Krueger, Jennifer B. Unger, Jessica L. Barrington-Trimis, Junhan Cho, H. Isabella Lanza, Danielle R. Madden, Afton Kechter, Adam M. Leventhal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Rationale: Specific cannabis products may differentially increase risk of initiating non-cannabis illicit drug use during adolescence. Objective: To determine whether ever- and poly-use of smoked, vaporized, edible, concentrate, or blunt cannabis products are associated with subsequent initiation of non-cannabis illicit drug use. Methods: High school students from Los Angeles completed in-classroom surveys. The analytic sample (N = 2163; 53.9% female; 43.5% Hispanic/Latino; baseline M age = 17.1 years) included students who reported never using illicit drugs at baseline (spring, 11th grade) and provided data at follow-up (fall and spring, 12th grade). Logistic regression models assessed associations between use of smoked, vaporized, edible, concentrate, and blunt cannabis at baseline (yes/no for each product) and any non-cannabis illicit drug use initiation—including cocaine, methamphetamine, psychedelics, ecstasy, heroin, prescription opioids, or benzodiazepines—at follow-up. Results: Among those who never used non-cannabis illicit drugs at baseline, ever cannabis use varied by cannabis product (smoked = 25.8%, edible = 17.5%, vaporized = 8.4%, concentrates = 3.9%, and blunts = 18.2%) and patterns of use (single product use = 8.2% and poly-product use = 21.8%). After adjustment for baseline covariates, odds of illicit drug use at follow-up were largest for baseline ever users of concentrates (aOR [95% CI] = 5.74[3.16–10.43]), followed by vaporized (aOR [95% CI] = 3.11 [2.41–4.01]), edibles (aOR [95% CI] = 3.43 [2.32–5.08]), blunts (aOR [95% CI] = 2.66[1.60–4.41]), and smoked (aOR [95% CI] = 2.57 [1.64–4.02]) cannabis. Ever use of a single product (aOR [95% CI] = 2.34 [1.26–4.34]) or 2 + products (aOR [95% CI] = 3.82 [2.73–5.35]) were also associated with greater odds of illicit drug initiation. Conclusions: For each of five different cannabis products, cannabis use was associated with greater odds of subsequent illicit drug use initiation, especially for cannabis concentrate and poly-product use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Adolescents
  • Cannabis
  • Edible
  • Poly-substance use
  • Vaping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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