An international survey of high school students found widespread familiarity with other adolescents who used marijuana and fragmented knowledge about marijuana facts. These findings were published in the Children and Youth Services Review.
High school students (N=2000) were recruited between 2018 and 2019 from 21 schools located in Australia, Israel, Russia, Ukraine, and the United States (US). Participants responded to a 3 part questionnaire that assessed whether the student had contact with marijuana products, their opinions about marijuana, and their knowledge about marijuana’s effects.
Out of 5 possible points, the participants scored an average of 4.14 points for the question about having frequent contact with marijuana smokers and 94% said they had seen someone smoking marijuana. No difference in response was observed between genders (boys: r, 0.53; girls: r, 0.47).
Stratified by country, the highest score for frequent contact with marijuana smokers was for Russia (mean, 4.6 points) followed by Israel (mean, 4.1 points), Australia (mean, 4.1 points), the US (mean, 4.0 points), and Ukraine (mean, 3.8 points).
For beliefs about marijuana, out of a maximum score of 5 (correct beliefs), the participants had an average score of 2.66, indicating a mixed response. The most knowledgeable group was the students from the US (mean, 3.0 points) followed by Australia (mean, 2.9 points), Israel (mean, 2.7 points), Ukraine (mean, 2.5 points), and Russia (mean, 2.2 points).
The section about knowledge of the effects of marijuana was completed by 80.6%, in which the rest of the participants (n=388) indicated they had no specific knowledge about the effects of marijuana on health.
Students from the US were more aware of medicinal uses of marijuana, with 96% responding with correct answers compared with 76% in other countries. In general, students from Ukraine and Russia performed poorer than students in the US, Israel, and Australia (P =.03).
These findings were likely not reflective of other regions with differing educational systems, literacy levels, and access to information.
The study authors concluded that most adolescents were familiar with marijuana users and had been exposed to marijuana smoking, but that factual knowledge was fragmented. These findings indicated that modification and enhancement of marijuana education is needed such that adolescents are able to make more informed decisions about marijuana.
Jacobs GP, Golshan T, Lande S, et al. Knowledge and attitudes of adolescents to marijuana: an international prospective study. Child Youth Serv Rev. 2020;50(2):243-246. doi:10.1111/imj.14732