Publications

The end of convergence in developmental patterns of frequent marijuana use from ages 18 to 30: An analysis of cohort change from 1976ñ2016

Background

This study examines the extent to which the developmental pattern of frequent marijuana use prevalence from ages 18 to 30 (overall and by gender) has varied across historical time (cohort groups) using data from a national sample of US young adults.

Methods

Self-reported data on frequent marijuana use (use on 20+ occasions in the past 30 days) from modal ages 18 to 30 were obtained from 58,059 individuals from 29 sequential cohorts (graduating high school classes of 1976-2004) participating in the Monitoring the Future study. Time-varying effect modeling was used to model cohort group differences in developmental patterns of frequent use overall and by gender.

Results

Developmental patterns of frequent marijuana use prevalence varied meaningfully across cohort groups. Frequent use at age 18 differed significantly across cohort groups as expected based on national data. Among earlier cohort groups (reaching age 30 during 1987-2008), developmental patterns converged by age 30 to relatively low frequent marijuana use prevalence. In contrast, among cohort groups reaching age 30 during 2008-2016, frequent marijuana use at age 30 was significantly higher than all previous cohort groups. Observed cohort differences did not vary significantly by gender.

Conclusions

Cross-cohort convergence in developmental patterns of frequent marijuana use prevalence by age 30 was not observed among recent cohort groups, among whom age 30 frequent marijuana use prevalence was at the highest levels observed since the study began. Higher frequent marijuana use prevalence in late young adulthood has meaningful health risk and service provision implications.