Study Examines Impact of Music with Cannabis References on Adolescent Marijuana Use

Study Examines Impact of Music with Cannabis References on Adolescent Marijuana Use

Parents may have good reason to pay attention to the style of music their children prefer. While parents are often shocked by the language and subject matter of the songs their kids listen to, there may be something more shocking going on: a change in how kids make decisions about using illicit drugs.

A study in 2009 examined the effects of exposure to cannabis in music on adolescents’ cannabis use (Primack et al, 2009). The researchers hoped to better understand the association between hearing about cannabis and actual use of cannabis.

To gather information, the study used baseline survey data of an anti-smoking clinical trial. The 959 participants were all recruited from health classes from three large high schools in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The baseline survey included information about socio-demographic variables, parenting style, sensation seeking, rebelliousness and alcohol use.

The researchers used two methods to measure the exposure students had to lyrics in two ways. The students were asked how many hours per day they listened to music, and they were asked which musician was their favorite. The researchers then analyzed this data to determine the student’s unique exposure to cannabis lyrics by measuring the number of hours per week multiplied by the number of cannabis lyrics per hour in their favorite artist’s songs.

The second way that the students’ exposure was measured was by determining the number of songs that contained cannabis lyrics by the artists named as favorite artists.

The primary outcome variables of interest were divided into those who had ever used cannabis (even a puff) and a measure of past 30 day cannabis use (even a puff).

The researchers used multivariate logistic regression analysis to determine that the students with the highest exposure to cannabis lyrics also had the highest odds of past 30 day cannabis use when compared with those students who had low cannabis lyrics exposures.

The regression analysis also revealed that those who had the highest song exposure had higher odds of past 30 day cannabis use than those who had the lowest song exposure.

The study’s results may be limited by the use of self-reported data. In addition, the study assumes that the favorite artist of the student is also who they listen to most, which may not be true. The study also does not determine causality with its cross-sectional design.

This study’s findings are the first to examine the relationship between lyrics containing references to cannabis and actual cannabis use among adolescents.

Primack, B. A., Douglas, E. L., & Kraemer, K. L. (2009). Exposure to cannabis in popular music and cannabis use among adolescents. Addiction, 105, 515-523.

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