Adolescent Cannabis Use Among Youth in ZIP Codes with Medical Dispensaries

Douglas Smith, Shahana Begum, Allison Carrington, Corey Campbell, Shaneil Taylor, Crystal Reinhart, James Swartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction. In the United States, 19 states permit recreational use of cannabis, with 16 more permitting medical use (Marijuana Policy Project, 2021). Concerns remain about whether liberalized policies result in increased adolescent cannabis use. To date, limited evidence exists that the statewide prevalence of adolescent cannabis use increased in states with liberalized policies. However, analyses at local levels show some negative impacts. Thus, we analyzed if living in a ZIP code with a dispensary (ZCWD) was associated with adolescent cannabis use. Methods. Dispensary ZIP codes from public records were matched to self-reported ZIP codes on the Illinois Youth Survey (IYS). We compared past 30-day and past-year cannabis use among youth living in a ZCWD and not living in a ZCWD. Results. About one in eight adolescents (12.8%, n = 1,348) in the weighted sample (n=10,569) resided in a ZCWD. Overall, past 30-day use was lower among youth who lived in ZIP codes with dispensaries (OR = .69, p < .05), with variation by grade. For example, only 10th (OR = .62, p < .05) and 12th graders (OR = .59, p < .05) living in a ZCWD had lower odds of past 30-day cannabis use. Additionally, only 12th graders in a ZCWD had lower odds of past-year use (OR = .70, p < .05). Finally, suburban youth living in a ZCWD also had lower odds of cannabis use (OR = .54, p < .01). Conclusion/Discussion. Cannabis use was significantly lower among 10th and 12th graders living in a ZCWD. Additional research should continue to monitor evolving state policies and whether they are associated with adolescent cannabis use.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-46
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 21 2022


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