All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Elizabeth Baker

Advisory Committee Members

Joseph D Wolfe

Mieke B Thomeer

Robin Lanzi

Peter S Hendricks

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2019

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

The US is currently experiencing sweeping changes in the legal status of cannabis, the most common illicit drug used in America. Due to its classification as a Schedule I substance we know very little about how cannabis use impacts mental health since illicit drugs are not legally allowed to be researched in a laboratory setting. The current research on cannabis use (CU) and mental health (MH) is expansive and conflicting. One side of the debate suggests CU in adolescence has a direct effect on MH, the other side suggests CU could be an indirect coping mechanism of poor MH. One thing missing this research is how structural forces affect the relationship between CU and MH. CU is a social behavior that can be affected by structural forces such as socioeconomic status (SES). Adolescence is when individuals first start experimenting with cannabis and when mental illnesses often begin (NIDA 2015). This research examines the link between CU, adolescent SES, and MH during the transition to adulthood. By including adolescent SES two different theories emerge fundamental cause (FCT) and stress process. Research on FCT has shown that gaps in health emerge based on differences in SES (Link and Phelan 1995). Stress process research has found that coping skills indirectly minimize poor mental health (Pearlin et al. 1981). Data comes from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997. Respondents included those living in America aged 12 to 16 years old in 1997 with an oversample of blacks and Hispanics. Longitudinal fixed effects are used to determine potential causal relationships between CU and MH. Multiple linear and multinomial logistic regression are used to determine selection into CU. Longitudinal multilevel logistic regression examines if adolescent SES moderates the relationship between MH and CU.

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