Prospective associations between cannabis use and negative and positive health and social measures among emerging adults

Liat Korn, Denise L. Haynie, Jeremy W. Luk, Bruce G. Simons-Morton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In light of on-going policy changes related to cannabis use in the United States, it is important to examine possible associations between cannabis use and subsequent behaviors of public health interest. This study identified prospective associations between cannabis use during first-year post high-school and a wide range of positive and negative health and social measures one year later. Methods: Data were from Waves 4 (Time 1; 1st year after high-school) and 5 (Time 2; one year later) of the NEXT Generation Health Study, a national sample of emerging adults in the United States (n = 1915; mean age = 20.2; 61% female). Multinomial logistic regressions adjusting for pertinent covariates were conducted to examine odds of substance use, nutrition, physical activity, sedentary behaviors, school performance, family relations, mental health, driving behaviors and health perceptions at Time 2. Results: Compared with non-use, frequent use (20+ times in the past year) at Time 1 was associated with Time 2 negative health and social measures, including risky driving behaviors (AOR = 1.78, CI-1.45–2.19), depressive symptoms (AOR = 1.68, CI-1.43–1.98), unhealthy weight control behaviors (AOR = 1.55, CI-1.31–1.84), psycho-somatic symptoms (AOR = 1.55, CI-1.30–1.83), and low school achievement (AOR = 1.46, CI-1.23–1.75). Frequent users relative to non-users had a lower probability of being overweight and obese (AOR = 0.75, CI-0.60–0.92). Regarding positive measures frequent users relative to non-users had a higher probability of meeting recommendation of physical activity (AOR = 1.28, CI-1.09–1.51), but a lower probability of consuming fruits and vegetables (AOR = 0.82, CI-0.70–0.96) or attending college/university (AOR = 0.57, CI-0.44–0.75). Findings: on occasional cannabis use (1–19 times in the past year) were more similar to frequent cannabis use for negative than positive health and social measures. Conclusion: Results demonstrate complex prospective patterns in which significant prospective associations with most adverse measures were found for both occasional and frequent users, and with few significant associations of positive health measures mostly among occasional cannabis users.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-63
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • Cannabis
  • Health and social consequences
  • Longitudinal study
  • NEXT Generation study

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy


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