The Interplay Between Marijuana-Specific Risk Factors and Marijuana Use Over the Course of Adolescence

Katarina Guttmannova, Martie L. Skinner, Sabrina Oesterle, Helene R. White, Richard F. Catalano, J. David Hawkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Permissive attitudes and norms about marijuana use and perceptions of low harm from use are considered risk factors for adolescent marijuana use. However, the relationship between risk and use may be reciprocal and vary across development and socializing domains. We examined the bidirectional relationships between marijuana-specific risk factors in individual, parent, peer, and community domains and adolescent marijuana use. Longitudinal data came from a sample of 2002 adolescents in 12 communities. Controlling for sociodemographic covariates and communities in which the individuals resided, autoregressive cross-lagged models examined predictive associations between the risk factors and marijuana use. After accounting for concurrent relationships between risk and use and stability in behavior over time, early adolescence and the transition to high school were particularly salient developmental time points. Specifically, higher risk in all four domains in grades 7 and 9 predicted greater use 1 year later. Moreover, youth’s perception of lax community enforcement of laws regarding adolescent use at all time points predicted increases in marijuana use at the subsequent assessment, and perceived low harm from use was a risk factor that prospectively predicted more marijuana use at most of the time points. Finally, greater frequency of marijuana use predicted higher levels of risk factors at the next time point in most socializing domains throughout adolescence. Prevention programs should take into account developmental transitions, especially in early adolescence and during the transition to high school. They also should focus on the reciprocal relationships between use and risk across multiple socializing domains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-245
Number of pages11
JournalPrevention Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 15 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescence
  • Dynamic relationship
  • Marijuana use
  • Marijuana-specific risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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