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Marijuana Usage Among Ethnic Groups in United States, Research Paper Example

Pages: 4

Words: 981

Research Paper

Marijuana is a substance that has been the center of much debate and controversy over the last forty years.  While it is technically considered an illegal drug, it has been legalized for medicinal purposes to help cancer patients and other extremely ill individuals deal with the physical pain endured by their diseases.  Nevertheless, marijuana is used by countless persons for personal use and it is heavily prevalent amongst various ethnic groups.  The purpose of this research is to analyze two critical articles that showcase the relationship that race and ethnicity have in connection to the usage and prevalence of marijuana.  Researchers have shown that stereotypical minority groups are more likely to use marijuana than individuals of Caucasian descent.

James et al. (2000) conducted a series 127 analytical interviews with members of different races that were known to have used marijuana.  The goal of the research was to justify or refute current research trends and statistics suggesting that Hispanic and African American adolescents are more likely to use foreign substances, most notably marijuana.  The interviews were conducted face-to-face based on a Likert scale questionnaire that had been developed by the researchers.  In summary, the goals of the research were to determine the importance that ethnic belonging as a psychosocial characteristic had on the prevalence for adolescent use of marijuana.  Perhaps the greatest key component was the section of the questionnaire related to cultural and ethnic identity.  Although the research concentrated primarily on the subject of ethnicity and cultural awareness, it can also be used to suggest that ethnicity can influence personal behaviors and decision-making through elements such as peer pressure and belongingness (James et al., 2000).

The most important result that was acquired through the analysis of the questionnaire results came from the potential ability to predict marijuana use within varying cultural groups.  The research did not state whether individuals from one ethnic background were more or less likely to engage in marijuana usage behavior; however, it did show that individuals with high levels of ethnic identity were directly found to be more likely to use marijuana (James et al., 2000).  This showcases that individuals of minority background who identify themselves with their personal ethnicities are more likely to use marijuana.  While this does not show a specific statistical correlation to drug use for specific ethnicities, this research does show the importance of how ethnic identity can greatly influence an individual’s personal behaviors.  Although the research conducted was performed on only 127 adolescents, 60 ethnic and 67 white (James et al., 2000), the results provide a basis for continued research and can lend insight into the importance that ethnicity plays on particular ethnic groups within the United States.

The research performed by Shih et al. (2010) was also used to analyze the roles in which ethnic groups, identity and personal characteristics are components to the increase or decrease in likelihood of using foreign substances including alcohol, drugs and most importantly marijuana.  Over 5,500 seventh and eighth grades were included in the study from 16 different middle schools in southern California (Shih et al., 2010).  These students were asked to provide personal information on the occurrence, prevalence and likelihood of previous and future instances of drug use.  The purpose of this research study was to ascertain the important role and predictive capabilities that ethnicity have for drug use, especially considering marijuana usage.  This is critical because not only does it showcase the growing prevalence of marijuana usage amongst different ethnic groups, but it also shows the growing prevalence among younger age groups, similar to the research conducted by James et al. (2000).  Nevertheless, the research conducted had several revealing statistics that showcased the importance of ethnicity for a younger age group and how ethnic identity can lead to marijuana usage.

While James et al. primarily focused on the importance of ethnic identity, Shih et al. (2010) used their research results to determine potential risk factors such as family life, single-parent versus multi-parent homes, socioeconomic backgrounds and educational background.  Based upon statistical results, Hispanic students reported higher use of substances over their lifetime as well as in the previous month (Shih et al., 2010).  Furthermore, Asians were the lowest reported ethnicity studies to report substance use as compared to non-Hispanic Caucasians (Shih et al., 2010).  The goal of the research was not only to determine the usage statistics of substances like marijuana, but also to determine the varying factors that can influence members of differing ethnicities to engage in marijuana usage behaviors.

In summary, the research results showed that students of Hispanic descent were clearly more likely to use marijuana and other substances in southern California than any other ethnicity included in the 5,500-person study ( ).  However, the researchers were unable to attribute this high prevalence among Hispanics to any particular source such as home life, socioeconomic status or any other background attributing factors.  This shows that additional research must be performed to determine the reasons that individuals of Hispanic ethnicity decide to use marijuana.  Clearly, the Hispanic ethnicity is a telling stratification component for predicting marijuana usage behaviors, but there are multiple reasons that members of this ethnicity would choose to use marijuana as opposed to being lumped into stereotypical categories.  Finally, “several factors mediated the relationship between Asian race and lower alcohol use, including individual, family (parental respect, adult and older sibling use), and school (perceived peer use, school-grade use) factors” (Shih et al., 2010).  In the end, Asian students place greater importance on family and other personal factors than deciding to use marijuana and other foreign substances.

References

James, W.H., Kim, G.K., & Armijo, E. (2000). The influence of ethnic identity on drug use among ethnic minority adolescents. Journal of Drug Education, 30(3), 265-280.

Shih, R.A., Miles, J.N.V., Tucker, J.S., Zhou, A.J., & D’Amico, E.J. (2010). Racial/ethnic differences in adolescent substance use: mediation by individual, family, and school factors. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 71(5), 640-651.

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