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Teen Use of Marijuana Edibles: A Focus Group Study of an Emerging Issue

Abstract

Recent research indicates that marijuana-infused food product (i.e., edible) use is becoming nearly as common as smoking marijuana where medical marijuana is available. This study explores edible use among teens. We conducted four focus groups in the San Francisco Bay Area with youth, ages 15–17. The focus groups were divided by gender and whether they used marijuana. Some teens mentioned edible use at school. Youth reported that teens consume edibles, primarily to reduce the likelihood of getting caught. Edibles are also attractive to those who do not like to smoke or have concerns about smoking. Both male and female respondents suggested that females are more likely than males to prefer edibles over smoking, one reason for which may be to avoid smelling like marijuana smoke. For some young women, edibles may be a way to avoid publicly presenting themselves as marijuana users. Findings also suggest that youth have access to edibles through multiple sources. Youth reported that they can purchase edibles at school from other students who either make the edibles themselves or are reselling edibles obtained from dispensaries. Both users and non-users were aware of potentially negative consequences related to edible use. Some youth mentioned that they have heard of youth dying from edibles, and several reported being concerned about the high produced by edibles. Female non-users appeared to be more concerned than others about edibles and compared them to drinks that could be spiked with drugs. However, sentiment among some male marijuana users was that if you cannot handle edibles you should not be using them. These findings suggest that strategies to curb access to edibles and use among youth, such as restricting sales of edibles with strong youth appeal and educating youth on the risks of edibles, will need to be developed.

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Acknowledgments

This publication was made possible by Grant R34DA038262 (PIs: B. Friese and M. Slater) from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of NIDA or of the National Institutes of Health.

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Correspondence to Bettina Friese.

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Friese, B., Slater, M.D., Annechino, R. et al. Teen Use of Marijuana Edibles: A Focus Group Study of an Emerging Issue. J Primary Prevent 37, 303–309 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10935-016-0432-9

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Keywords

  • Youth
  • Marijuana
  • Edibles
  • Marijuana-infused products
  • Dispensaries