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Advisory Committee Chair

Sylvie Mrug

Advisory Committee Members

Karen Cropsey

Merida Grant

Michael Windle

Jarred Younger

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2018

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

Marijuana is the most frequently used illicit substance by adolescents in the United States. African American adolescents tend to use marijuana at higher rates and suffer from more severe consequences compared to Caucasian adolescents. Additionally, African American adolescents may be more vulnerable to psychosocial factors, such as depression, post-traumatic stress, and associating with substance using peers that may cause them to use marijuana for specific reasons. These vulnerabilities may contribute to African American adolescents using marijuana at a higher rate than their Caucasian counterparts. Thus, the main purpose of this study was to examine the contribution of mental health problems and associating with substance using peers to marijuana use motives among African American adolescents, and whether these motives in turn predict marijuana use. The sample included 497 late adolescents and emerging adults (mean age 17.74, 52% female, 81% African American, 19% Caucasian), who participated in Wave 3 of the Birmingham Youth Violence Study. Results indicated that African American adolescents had higher rates of lifetime marijuana use and were more likely to report past 12-month marijuana use in comparison to Caucasian adolescents. Regarding the factor analysis of the Marijuana Motives Measure among African American participants who endorsed past year marijuana use (N=141), a “modified” Marijuana Motives Measure, based on the theoretical 5-factor structure, but with some items removed, indicated the best fit. Path models, using the “modified” Marijuana Motives Measure, revealed that more depressive symptomatology predicted using marijuana for coping motives, which in turn predicted greater frequency of marijuana use in the past year among African American late adolescents. Also, affiliation with substance using peers predicted using marijuana for more enhancement and social motives. Finally, using marijuana for expansion motives predicted more frequent past year marijuana use and using marijuana for conformity motives predicted less frequent past year marijuana use. Results suggest that identifying motives for marijuana use may help improve therapeutic approaches to more effectively reduce marijuana use among late adolescents and emerging adults. Overall, this study contributed and expanded existing literature on adolescent marijuana use and suggested potential intervention strategies to decrease marijuana use in a high risk population.

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