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Perceptions of Marijuana Decriminalization Among Young Sexual and Gender Minorities in Chicago: An Initial Measure Validation and Test of Longitudinal Associations with Use

Ethan Morgan, Christina Dyar, Christina S. Hayford, Sarah W. Whitton, Michael E. Newcomb, and Brian Mustanski

Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research

Background: There is a high rate of marijuana use among young sexual and gender minorities (SGM) and, as a result of recent state-level, fragmented marijuana laws, there is also likely high variability in their perceptions of marijuana decriminalization (PMD).

Methods: Data came from two cohorts of young SGM (aged 16–29) in Chicago, RADAR and FAB400, recruited from 2015 to 2017 (N=1,114). We developed a measure to assess PMD among this population, performed initial validation, and assessed its relationship to longitudinal changes in patterns of marijuana use and geographic distribution.

Results: In multivariable models, mean PMD score was prospectively associated with general (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]=2.00; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.46–2.77), but not problematic marijuana use. An increase in perceived decriminalization also predicted a significant increase in odds of general (aOR=1.67; 95% CI: 1.18–2.39) marijuana use. Significant concentrations of high PMD scores existed in across the city.

Conclusion: These results suggest further study of longitudinal changes in marijuana use as decriminalization or legalization increases in the U.S. to better understand shifting trends in use.

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