Working teens more likely to use cannabis than non-working teens

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A recently published study has revealed a strange correlation between teens and marijuana use: teens with jobs are more likely to use cannabis than teens who are unemployed.

The study was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health and was conducted in Washington State. Led by Washington State University’s Assistant Professor Dr. Janessa Graves, the researchers analyzed data from 2010 and 2016 from the Healthy Youth Study, a study conducted yearly of 8th, 10th and 12th graders. The study asks students questions about cannabis use over the last 30 days as well as their job information.

The researchers found that there was an increased in cannabis use among older students when cannabis was legalized. Cannabis was legalized in Washington in 2012 by voters, two years following the first set of data and 2016 was two years after legal sales began in the state.

“Between 2010 and 2016, marijuana use decreased significantly among working and non-working eighth and 10th grades. Among working 12th graders, marijuana use increased significantly over time relative to non-working youth,” The researchers wrote.

The researchers also found that cannabis use was additionally dependent on the type of work environment in which the teens were employed.

“One thing I really like to highlight though is that so much of it depends on quality of the workplace,” said Graves. “Some places are really good for adolescents to work. Not all workplaces are created equal.”

The study found that teens working in more formal settings including service and retail jobs are more likely to smoke cannabis than teens with more informal jobs, such as babysitting.

Dr. Graves said that although she was not surprised that teens who work are more likely to use cannabis, she was surprised to find there to be such a difference between seniors in high school and younger teens.

“I wasn’t shocked that working teens have a higher prevalence of marijuana use,” said Graves. “I am a bit surprised how the 12th graders’ patterns differed from the eighth and 10th graders. The 12th graders are acting more like adults.”

There is currently not enough thorough research that detailed the effects cannabis has on adolescents but Graves, her team and other healthcare professionals believe that teens need to understand the reasons they should wait to use cannabis.

“Older teens start acting more like adults, but there’s pretty good science out there that it’s really in their best interest not to use marijuana until they’re older,” said Graves. “Parents should monitor the safety of kids at work. …Have this open discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of working and how to navigate those pressures, not just with cannabis.”

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