Exposure to Cannabis in Popular Music and Cannabis Use Among Adolescents

A study to determine whether exposure to references to cannabis in popular music is associated with cannabis use in urban adolescents found an independent association between exposure and early use.

The authors surveyed all 9th grade students taking health classes at three U.S. urban high schools, asking about current (past 30 days) and lifetime use of cannabis. Students also reported their music listening habits and favorite artist, as well as demographic information. The authors estimated exposure to cannabis-related lyrics with content analysis of students’ favorite artists’ songs.

All 959 participants were exposed to an estimated 27 cannabis references a day. Twelve percent were current users; 32 percent had ever used cannabis; and those in the highest tertile of exposure were twice as likely to have used cannabis in the past 30 days as those in the lowest tertile–even after adjusting for covariates. There was not a significant relationship between cannabis exposure and a sham variable of alcohol use.

These findings can improve health education interventions by making educators aware that they need to understand and counter the messages youth receive in music. Further research is needed to determine a causal relationship between music exposure and cannabis use.