Evidence for Connections Between Prosecutor-Reported Marijuana Case Dispositions and Community Youth Marijuana-Related Attitudes and Behaviors

This article examines the relationship between local drug policy, and adolescent attitudes toward and use of marijuana. Little is known about the influence of local policy on youth drug use.

The authors analyzed data from questionnaires completed by 19,933 adolescents in the Monitoring the Future Study and from telephone interviews with 97 prosecutors from 40 states. Adolescents were queried on their use of, disapproval of and perception of risk involved with marijuana.

Key Findings:

  • More severe prosecutor dispositions toward marijuana use were associated with lower use, higher disapproval rates and increased perception of risk by adolescents.

More severe local drug policy on marijuana use is associated with a decreased likelihood that adolescents will use the drug and an increased likelihood that they will disapprove of marijuana consumption and perceive it as a risky behavior.