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Drug use and misuse in western society: Effects of chronic marijuana use among young women and girls Proposal


It is certain that drug misuse and addiction is viewed as chronic diseases in western society. However, the views of drug use have taken a variety of forms over the centuries. Initially, the drug use was positively feted but this view changed gradually and drug use became condemned as evil.

The reason for the changing attitudes does not always bear any logical explanations as to why a particular attitude was adopted at a given point in time. Nevertheless, it is easy for majority of us to agree that the current view of drug abuse is a logical one.

A hundred or so years ago, drug use was legal. Anyone could have walked into a high street store and buy cannabis, or cocaine or whatever else one wanted over the counter.

By this time, drugs were freely available throughout history and across cultures in the western societies. The idea of prohibition that was pressed forward largely by the aim of alcohol elimination from the society was an ultimate disruption with the traditional wisdom of public policy.

In the beginning of the 19th century, the only familiar drugs available to the west were alcohol and opium but, by the early years of the 20th century, a constellation of substances that form the modern category of illegal drugs –opiates, cannabis, cocaine, stimulants and psychedelics- all found their way into the society. This was partly as a result of the international trade and scientific discoveries.

Today, modern western societies based on complex industrial and commercial systems loathe and prohibit the use of drugs for other uses other than for therapeutic reasons. This is built on the fears of loss of individuality as a result of addictions to a drug or the sensations it produces.

It is also based on the fears of the impacts of the drug use, concerns over the reduced productivity that’s likely to cause harm to the user and the society and so on. In general, drug use and misuse touches on concerns for safety, well-being, progress and the condition of the addict and the society at large.

Research Question

What are the psychological effects of chronic marijuana use in young women and girls?

Literature review

Gender and ethnic differences in drug use

Wallace et al (2002) examined ethnic differences in legal and illegal drug use among American senior grade students and focused on girls. In this study that applied cross-sectional data from large, multiethnic, and multinational representative samples, Wallace et al administered questionnaires to total thousands of girls and boys in senior grades.

Results of the study showed that marijuana was the most widely used illicit drug by American girls. On average, 20% of 8th graders, 38% of 10th graders and 45% of 12th graders admitted to using marijuana. Between 1-3% of the girls admitted to using it on a daily basis while 19% admitted to using it in the last 30 days.

The findings also revealed that ethnic differences in drug use among girls existed. Drug use among Native American girls was higher than Mexican, Puerto Rican, and white girls. It was even lower among the African American, the Latinas, and the Asian Americas (Wallace et al., 2002).

On gender differences, the data indicated that boys are more likely to abuse drugs in each of the grades surveyed. Very high rates in alcohol use were recorded among girls in all grades. On average, 1-2% of the girls were daily drinkers.

The trend observed in marijuana use among girls in ethnic diversities was also recorded here. Native American girls led the pack with the Asian Americans trailing. Similar results were reported for cigarettes.

An important limitation of this study was that it researched on high school seniors alone leaving behind the onset of drug use among the young people and those who dropped out of school before they joined the senior year. Another limitation is that the research was carried out about 10 years ago (2002).

Current trend data reveal that although there was a considerable difference between boys and girls drug users, the prevalence of drug use has now converged with time.

In 2003, Bryant et al carried out a survey to establish how academic achievement, attitude and behaviors influence drug abuse during teen-age years. The group collected biennial data regarding alcohol cigarette and marijuana use among people of between 14 and 20 years (Bryant et al., 2003).

On cigarettes use, it was reported that females smoked more than males. It was higher for the white students than it was for the African American and Latino students. Instances of cigarette smoking were higher for students with lower academic achievements than it was for those who performed better.

In terms of motivation and school attitudes, a comparable development was reported. While predicting variations in change in drug use over time, results showed a linear increase in cigarette use from age 14-20 being high among the whites than for African Americans and Latinas.

It was much higher for those with lower academic achievement in the eighth grade (Bryant et al., 2003).

Still interesting was the realization that alcohol use was higher for females than for males and still higher for white students than for African American students. A similar trend to cigarette use was reported for alcohol use for misbehavior, loneliness, motivation and school attitudes.

Regarding quadratic growth, female’s alcohol use accelerated at a lower rate from age 14 to 20 compared to their male counterparts. Similarly, results were consistent for marijuana use as a higher progressive increase was reported among females than among the males.

Like in other researches, this study was limited as it was based on adolescents’ self-report and researched on three drugs alone. Cannabis, which is in high use among girls, was left out.

In a research to establish conjoint developmental trajectories of young adult substance use, Jackson, Sher, and Schulenberg (2008) used the national representative data from Monitoring the Future Project to reveal developmental courses of heavy drinking, smoking and marijuana use (Jackson, Sher and Schulenberg, 2008).

They applied 4 waves of data ranging from ages 18-26 in a multicohort young adult sample. In this study, they examined comorbidity by cross-classifying group membership in drug use trajectories.

In the final stage, they examined the extent to which risk factors such as sex, race, delinquency, alcohol expectation, and academic achievement and so on influenced the combinations of comorbidity happened in much greater extent than was by chance.

Their results identified four courses of substance use that were in agreement with those occurring in the literature.

According to their probe, heavy drinking, smoking and marijuana use highly increased the patterns of comorbidity. The inquest showed that delinquency, sensation seeking, alcohol expectancies and religion predicted a combination of comorbidity that featured an early onset of chronic high use.

Cross-sectional relationship between cannabis and other drugs

In general, their report indicated a high cross-substance use over emerging adulthood revealing a similar developmental timing to use. This was largely due to experience of developmental transitions that are likely to influence the use of different drugs.

Individuals have a tendency to use multiple drugs due to a common vulnerability to each and not as a result of directional relations among drugs such as cross-tolerance.

Kolansky & Moore (1982) researched on the effects of heavy cannabis use among adolescents. They investigated clinical case studies in which bright adolescents used cannabis that with time resulted into a daily use and ultimately, use of other illicit drugs (Kolansky & Moore, 1982).

They found out that cannabis use led to a declining social and educational performance. This was evidenced by the high school dropout and the immersion in the illicit drugs subculture.

Job performance

Continued use of cannabis is likely to harm job performance among young adults who enter the work-force due to chronic intoxication (Kandal, 1984).

The study carried out by Kandal revealed that cannabis users have a high rate of unemployment than non-users. However, a key limitation in his study was that the comparison between users and non-users was more likely to be confounded by the differing educational qualifications of both the users and the non-users.

In a similar research carried out by Newcombe and Bentler (1988), the two sought to provide a more extensive analysis on the influence of drug use by adolescents on the job performance of young adults (Newcombe & Bentler, 1988).

In their inquest, Newcombe and Bentler examined the relationships between adolescents’ substance use and income, job instability, job satisfaction and resort to public assistance.

This study concurred with that carried out by Kendal as it reported that drug users had a far much bigger number of changes of jobs than their counterparts. Newcombe and Bentler concluded that cannabis users had an impaired job performance, or failed to develop responsible employment behaviors such as integrity, meticulousness and dependability.

Failed relationships

Among women and high school girls, there are possible development and empirical reasons to suggest that use of cannabis affects interpersonal relationships. According to Newcombe and Bentler, chronic cannabis use by young adolescents produces a developmental lag.

This has a tendency of embedding in the adults styles of thinking and coping which may weaken their ability to form adult interpersonal relationships. Chronic substance users positively correlate between drug use, articulate sexual activity, and early marriage; these are the predisposing factors of for the high rate of relationship failure.

Studies have indicated that a chronic involvement with cannabis envisages a decreased probability of marriage, an augmented rate of come-we-stay relationships, and an even higher risk of divorce or dismissed genuine relationships. This is coupled with a higher rate of unplanned pregnancies, parenthood and abortions (Kandal, 1984).

Newcombe and Bentler (1988) also reported parallel relationships between substance users and early marriages in their cross-sectional data analysis from their group of youths in Los Angeles. Results showed an amplified rate of early unplanned family formations and an equal divorce cases in early adulthood.

Their interpretation was that early substance abuse leads to early unplanned marriages, children and ultimate divorce. Similarly, this supported Newcombe and Bentler’s theory of ‘precocious development’.

The theory stipulated that substance users tend to bypass the archetypal maturation sequence of school, work and marriage. Substance use accelerates development making young adult engage in adult roles without the necessary growth and development to boost success rates in these roles.

Little attention has been given on the role of cannabis on the development of premarital relationships. There are also very few studies that focuses entirely on young women cannabis users and interpersonal relationships.

Delinquency and crime

Initiation and maintenance of regular marijuana use are related to a certain degree to social nonconformity (Donovan & Jessor, 1983). Therefore, it is practical to link substance abuse to social nonconformity and a variety of other forms of delinquent behavior and crime in young females.

Earlier cross-sectional studies of adult substance users support this claim. Kandel (1984) reports a relationship between marijuana use and history of crime such as motor vehicle accidents due to intoxication.

In 1978, Johnston et al reported that there was a strong link between substance use and delinquency (Johnston et al., 1978). However, studies carried out over the years have failed to investigate whether there is any delinquent behavior among girls related to marijuana use in particular.

Educational performance

Because majority of substance use are initiated in high school, then, high school education an important pointer of how drug use influences an individual’s educational performance, career chances and life chances.

According to hall and Baumrind and Moselle (1985), cannabis use is a widespread behavior among adolescents resulting in the damage of cognitive and psychomotor with far reaching effects on educational performance (Baumrind and Moselle, 1985).

Aggravated cannabis use and persistently impaired learning ultimately results in poorer performance both in high schools and in college. Consequently, there is increased rate of school drop-outs. Robins et al (1970), found a link between cannabis use and the risk associated with dropping out of school (Robinson et al., 1970).

Inquiries into the relationship between college dropout cases and marijuana use have been more ambiguous and have failed to link cannabis use and performance before its use.

In essence, there has been little research done concerning the rate of cannabis use and dropping out of school among girls. Majority of these studies have tended to be longitudinal suggesting statistical relations between cannabis use and other illicit drug and their impact on educational performance.

A strategic limitation on the various research conducted on cannabis abuse is their bias towards patterns, reasons and the social and psychological consequences of cannabis use as a whole.

There either few or no research focusing on women and girls and the effects of their cannabis use on their educational performance. This paper will purpose to explore the possible effects of cannabis use on the educational achievement of young women and girls.



The report will analyze data obtained from Monitoring the Future study (MTF) which is supported by National Institute of Drug Abuse, USA. Monitoring the Future applies a multistage sampling procedure to get nationally representative sample of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders from more than 48 states.

In the initial stage, MTF selects a geographic region; step two, a specific school is selected and in the final stage, students within a given school are selected. The study samples approximately 420 schools per year. In this paper, female students for all the three categories 8th, 10th, and 12th grades will be examined separately.

Subset one will include female students who below the age of 20 who report as being highly involved marijuana use. The second subset will entail female chronic marijuana users above the age of 20 years (approximately 1,000 female students in 300 schools).

Monitoring the Future has been using this strategy to collect data annually from seniors in high school beginning in 1975. The program assigns sample weights to students so as to take account of differential probability of selection.

All ethical issues will be observed and names will not be used during this study. Instead, coding will be used to hide the identity of participants.

Monitoring the Future primarily provides data representative of the nation as a whole. It does not lay any emphasis on gender or ethnic differences and does not make any effort to oversample girls in any of the numerous ethnic groups available.

In this report, the number of ethnic subgroups presented will be relatively small in proportion of the total population. This is because a similar thing is evident in the annual samples presented by the MTF. To raise the number of females in the research for analysis, data from 2005-2011 will be combined.

Because MTF presents data in independent samples of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, the study will likewise analyze them independently.

Materials and measure

Female student marijuana use- The students will complete self-administered questionnaires from the MTF study profiling their marijuana use.

Emphasis will be laid on marijuana use for the last 12months which will then be assessed on an eight-point scale (1=0 times, 2=1-2 times, 3=3-4 times, 4=5 times, 5=6-9 times, 6=10-15 times, 7=16-35 times, 8= 36 or more times). At last a binary variable for the one year period will be created where 0=no use and 1=use.

Dependent variables will focus on the proportion of female students who used marijuana, tobacco and numerous other licit and illicit drugs in their entire life, in the last 12 months, and on a daily basis. Additional marijuana measures will investigate the proportion of female students who use marijuana more than one times a day.

Critical independent variables will explore gender and ethnic identification of the participants. As for gender, this will be known by making the participants answer the question ‘what is your sex?’ the response will be categorized as 1=male and 2=female.

To identify ethnicity, a participant will respond to the question’ how do you describe yourself?’ Answers will be in 8 categories. Knowing the age of the participants will require them to answer question ‘how old are you?’ 1=below 20, 2= over 20.

Even after combining these data, it seems that there will be very few Cuban Americans represented making it necessary not to sample then separately.

It is predicted that statistical significance of in drug use between girls of different ages will depend on sample size, percentage size and effects of the design. This will be solved by adjusting all variance estimates for sampling design.

Cross sectional relationship between marijuana and other illicit drugs-The study will examine several licit and illicit drugs and other subgroups. However, it will be awkward to stipulate significance levels for each of the drugs studied.

Academic achievement- this will be measured by use of a single item; the participants self-report of their mean grade during the last one year. 9= A, 8=A-, 7=B+, 6=B, 5=B-, 4=C+, 3=C, 2=C- and 1=D.

Delinquency – this will be studied by use of students mean standardized reports of school misbehaving leading to suspensions in their school life (3-point scale). Days skipped as a result of the suspension will be scrutinized on a 7-point scale, while classes missed during the last one month will be on a 6-point scale. Reports for visits by respondents to the office for misbehaving will be studied on a 5-point scale.

Interpersonal relationships will be studied on a 5-point scale

Plan for data management and analysis or explication

Level 1 factors will include the timings of drug use based on individuals (life time use, last one year, daily use). This level will touch on above and below 20 year olds marijuana use. The linear component will detail initial use at age 14 as an intercept.

At level 2, interindividual factors will be considered. This will entail the effects of drug use such as delinquent and crime, poor school performance, work performance for those working part-time and cross-sectional relationships between marijuana and other drugs.

Finally, interaction factors of ethnicity and gender will be investigated. Interaction models will be constructed using full ML estimation where z-scored predictors will be included for noncategorical variables. Analysis will apply the omnibus tests to minimize the possibility of type 1 errors.

Planned products of research (report, monograph)

The results for this research will be presented in a report format titled ‘Drug use and misuse in western society: Effects of chronic marijuana use among high school girls’. A number of tables will be used to deliver the intended message home and create vivid of the results.

These tables will include data for both over and under 20 year olds. They will show the participants’ life time, 12 months, and daily drug use and use of other selected drugs. For each given drug, the tabulation will reveal the percentage of the total population (gender-wise) for those who used the named drug.

Potential contribution to anthropology and community

The findings from this study will have a number of implications on drug prevention programs. This will be more so on those programs that stress on early intervention and competence enhancement programs in their fight against drugs.

Early intervention programs that look into the social and psychological causes of drug abuse will have crucial preventive effects. This will not only be in terms of use of other drugs but also on habitual marijuana use by girls.

The efforts of the public health aimed at reducing, delaying or preventing early experimentation with alcohol or other licit drugs may meaningfully lower regular marijuana use in high school girls and young female adults.

The report will suggest the cause for school misbehavior and promote the understanding of the relationship between drug use and poor performance, shaky relationships and poor work performance.

Limitations of the study

This study will have several limitations. First, since data will be obtained by means of a self-administered questionnaire, there is a likelihood that significant relationships will exist among variables measured reflecting common method variance.

Since this study looks at only a few effects of marijuana use among young adult females, the effects of risk factors will be more complex than our study can identify.

Furthermore, because the study could not cover the entire ethnic groups, the results may not be generalizable for habitual female marijuana users among other ethnic groups.

There is a possibility that more girls will begin marijuana use during the course of the study despite the fact that samples will be conventional in behavior and not representative of high risk adolescent female user.

I am proposing that future research investigate the discrepancy in prediction of experimental against typical marijuana use by female students and young female adults.

Future research should also investigate broadly the relative importance of the innumerable actual and potential risk factors, the way interactions among predictors elucidate habitual marijuana use among female high school students and how theorized risk factors for regular marijuana use vary from those of trial among young female adults.

Community liaison and access to research site (“gaining access”)

Making the work of research available to both peers and the wider community is a critical and a final step for any viable study. This demonstrates that your work is theoretically and experimentally feasible and of outstanding quality.

Because the time necessary before the findings of this study are published could be lengthy, there are plans to publish the first version as a technical report after it has been stamped by the department.

This will enable sharing with the community while peers could have a look at it and may be cite it. It will also make it easy for them to make follow-up even before it is fully published.

Earliest versions of this work will be posted to the global archive/e-print (). This will make it easy for other to download the work from numerous replica sites all over the world. Making this finding available online will attract technical media who might comment and enable necessary editing.

An introduction of this work will appear in a Journal of adolescent health amongst other journals. Such a move will make it available to expert all over the world. I intend to also post a published copy of the report on my personal website.

Although there is risk for providing the complete report over concerns of publisher’s copy right, I will go ahead and post a camera copy. In any case there few publishers who will mind publishing the report in my personal website.

I will use my Facebook page to provide a link to the report published online by the publisher. The community and friends can use this link to access the report.

Slides of talks on this report will be available on ‘YouTube’ without any reservation. This will enhance community liaison. The community will also be called to contribute through these links and on the project website that is in the process of being launched.

Reference List

Baumrind, D. and Moselle, K.A. (1985) A developmental perspective on adolescent drug abuse. Advances in Alcohol and Substance Abuse, 5, 41-67.

Bryant, Alison, Schulenberg,J., O’malley, P., Bachman, J., and Johnstone, L.(2003). “How Academic Achievement, Attitudes, and Behaviors Relate to the Course of Substance Use During Adolescence: A 6-Year, Multiwave National Longitudinal Study.” Journal of Research on Adolescence 13.3 (2003): 361-397. Print.

Donovan, J.E. and Jessor, R. (1983) Problem drinking and the dimension of involvement with drugs: A Guttman Scalogram analysis of adolescent drug use. American Journal of Public Health, 73, 543-552.

Jackson, K. M., Sher, K. J., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2008). Conjoint developmental trajectories of young adult substance use. Alcoholism: Clinical and ExperimentalResearch, 32, 1–15.

Johnston, L.D., O’Malley, P.M. and Eveland, L.K. (1978). Drugs and delinquency: A search for causal connections. In D.B. Kandel (ed) Longitudinal Research on Drug Use: Empirical Findings and Methodological Issues. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Kandel, D.B. (1984). Marijuana Users in Young Adulthood. Archives of General Psychiatry, 41, 200-209

Kolansky, H. and Moore, W.T. (1982). Effects of Marihuana on Adolescents and Young Adults. Journal of the American Medical Association, 216, 486-492.

Newcombe, M.D. and Bentler, P. (1988). Consequences of Adolescent Drug Use: Impact on the Lives of Young Adults. Newbury Park, California: Sage Publications.

Robins, L., Darvish, H.S., and Murphy, G.E. (1970). The long-term outcome for adolescent drug users: A follow-up study of 76 users and 146 nonusers. In J. Zubin and A.M. Freedman (eds) The Psychopathology of Adolescence. New York: Grune and Stratton.

Wallace, J., Jerald, B., Patrick, O., John, s., Shauna, C., and Johnston, L. (2003) “Gender and ethnic differences in smoking, drinking and illicit drug use among American 8th, 10th and 12th grade students, 1976–2000.” Addiction 98 (2003): 225-234.

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IvyPanda. "Drug use and misuse in western society: Effects of chronic marijuana use among young women and girls." May 13, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/drug-use-and-misuse-in-western-society-effects-of-chronic-marijuana-use-among-young-women-and-girls/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "Drug use and misuse in western society: Effects of chronic marijuana use among young women and girls." May 13, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/drug-use-and-misuse-in-western-society-effects-of-chronic-marijuana-use-among-young-women-and-girls/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Drug use and misuse in western society: Effects of chronic marijuana use among young women and girls'. 13 May.

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