Projecting the Life Course for the Marijuana/Blunts Generation

Andrew Lang Golub, N. D. R. I., Inc.
Bruce D. Johnson, N. D. R. I., Inc.
Eloise Dunlap, N. D. R. I., Inc.

In the 1990s, marijuana become the drug of choice of many youths particularly when smoked in a blunt, an inexpensive cigar in which the tobacco filler is replaced with marijuana. This trend was especially pronounced among youthful arrestees as identified by the ADAM program. This paper ponders the extent to which these youths might likely desist from marijuana use; continue marijuana use throughout their lives; or progress to other illicit drugs. By way of possible precedents, the paper examines NHSDA and ADAM data regarding use over the life course for previous birth cohorts of alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, cocaine (including crack), heroin, and hallucinogens. Within the general population, use of illicit drugs declines with age while use of alcohol and cigarettes mostly persists. Among arrestees, however, both licit and illicit substance use tends to persist. (Note: The analysis of ADAM data is limited since individuals who cease criminal activity are no longer potential respondents.) Arrestees who came of age since 1990 will likely continue their marijuana use throughout adulthood. To date, these individuals have mostly not progressed to crack, heroin or ecstasy. The conclusion contemplates the extent to which these individuals might be affected by future drug epidemics. This research was supported by grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Substance Abuse Policy Research Program (037864), the National Institute of Justice (1999-IJ-CX-0020) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Points of view and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, U.S. Government, National Institute of Justice nor National Development and Research Institutes.

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Updated 05/20/2006