- •Many adolescents are exposed to medical marijuana (MM) advertising.
- •MM advertising exposure may contribute to increased marijuana use and consequences.
- •Regulations for marijuana advertising are needed, similar to tobacco and alcohol.
Marijuana use during adolescence is associated with neurocognitive deficits and poorer functioning across several domains. It is likely that more states will pass both medical and recreational marijuana legalization laws in the coming elections; therefore, we must begin to look more closely at the longitudinal effects of medical marijuana (MM) advertising on marijuana use among adolescents so that we can better understand effects that this advertising may have on their subsequent marijuana use and related outcomes.
We followed two cohorts of 7th and 8th graders (mean age 13) recruited from school districts in Southern California from 2010 until 2017 (mean age 19) to examine effects of MM advertising on adolescents’ marijuana use, cognitions, and consequences over seven years. Latent growth models examined trajectories of self-reported exposure to medical marijuana ads in the past three months and trajectories of use, cognitions, and consequences.
Higher average exposure to MM advertising was associated with higher average use, intentions to use, positive expectancies, and negative consequences. Similarly, higher rates of change in MM advertising exposure were associated with higher rates of change in use, intentions, expectancies, and consequences over seven years.
Results suggest that exposure to MM advertising may not only play a significant role in shaping attitudes about marijuana, but may also contribute to increased marijuana use and related negative consequences throughout adolescence. This highlights the importance of considering regulations for marijuana advertising, similar to regulations in place for the promotion of tobacco and alcohol in the U.S.