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J Adolesc Health. 2019 Mar 14. pii: S1054-139X(19)30020-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2018.12.027. [Epub ahead of print]

Employment and Marijuana Use Among Washington State Adolescents Before and After Legalization of Retail Marijuana.

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College of Nursing-Spokane, Washington State University, Spokane, Washington. Electronic address:
Department of Health Promotion and Policy, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts.
Nurse Consultant, Seattle, Washington.
Program for Injury Prevention, Education and Research (PIPER), Department of Community and Behavioral Health, Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado, Aurora, Colorado.
Program Design and Evaluation Services, Oregon Health Authority, Public Health Division and Multnomah County Health Department, Portland, Oregon.



The purpose of the study was to describe associations between employment and marijuana use among adolescents 2 years before passage of 2012 ballot initiative and 2 years after the implementation of retail recreational marijuana sales took place in Washington.


We used 2010 and 2016 data from Washington's statewide school-based Healthy Youth Survey, which is completed by more than 76,000 youth annually and representative of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders in public schools. We used "difference-in-differences" regression to estimate the odds of current, past 30-day marijuana use by working status and hours worked per week compared with nonworking youth.


Working adolescents in all grades had higher prevalence of recent marijuana use compared with nonworking adolescents. Youth working in formal settings, such as retail and service sectors, were more likely to use marijuana than nonworking and youth working in informal settings, such as babysitting. Between 2010 and 2016, marijuana use decreased significantly among working and nonworking 8th and 10th graders. Among working 12th graders, marijuana use increased significantly over time relative to nonworking youth (adjusted odds ratio: 1.34, 95% confidence interval: 1.22-1.48). Associations were stronger for youth who worked more hours per week.


Working youth were more likely to use marijuana before and after Washington's legalization of retail marijuana. Legalization was associated with increases in marijuana use specifically among 12th-grade working youth. States legalizing marijuana may consider implementing interventions to support healthy behaviors among working youth.


Adolescents; Cannabis; Employment; Marijuana; Teens; Work

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