With cannabis the most commonly used drug globally, the perception of the risk associated with cannabis use declining among young adults, and the adverse health conditions associated with cannabis use, understanding whether perceptual patterns exist among young adults, whether perception influences their consumption of cannabis, and the relationship between their perception and sources of drug information, are important public health concerns.
In this survey of 1,851 young adults aged 18-29 years from the University of Cordoba in Spain, three perception styles were found to exist, with 53.4% of the sample identified as having “strict” perceptions or believing that cannabis is associated with “always causing problems”, 31.4% of the sample identified as “permissive-aware” or varying in their beliefs that cannabis either sometimes causes problems or cannabis causes many problems, and 15.3% of the sample identified as having “lax” perceptions or believing cannabis “rarely causes problems”. Comparing these perception styles to cannabis consumption, cannabis within the past 30 days was 14.3 times more likely to be consumed by those in the “lax” group than the “strict” group. In the analysis of the information sources per perception style, the most frequent sources cited were the mass media, friends, parents, drug talks and the internet. Statistically significant differences were found between the sources reported and the three perception styles. For the parent source, those with “strict” perceptions cited this source more frequently than the other two groups. Among the sources, friends and persons in contact with drugs, those with “lax” perceptions more frequently cited this source than the other two groups. Health care professionals and official agencies were not frequently cited as the source for drug information for all three groups.
These findings stress the importance for informing about the risks associated with cannabis use and the influence parents, friends, the mass media, and the internet have on the perception of this risk. Public health measures should include ensuring accurate information is disseminated and messaging via social media should include peers and drug users informing about the adverse health conditions to prevent cannabis consumption.
Herruzo, C., Pino, M. J., Lucena, V., & Herruzo, J. (2019). Perceptual styles and cannabis consumption prediction in young people. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(1). doi: 10.3390/ijerph17010288.