First Advisor

Junghee Lee

Term of Graduation

Spring 2022

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Social Work and Social Research


Social Work




Youth -- Drug use, Teenagers -- Drug use, Marijuana -- Use -- Public opinion, Marijuana -- Law and legislation -- United States -- States, Drug legalization



Physical Description

1 online resource (x, 111 pages)


Youth marijuana use, which can lead to numerous health problems, is significantly associated with youth drug perception, which is greatly influenced by state marijuana laws such as medical marijuana legalization and penalty severity. The mediating impact of social drug perceptions on the association between state marijuana laws and youth drug disapproval is not well known. Based on theory of change and primary socialization theory, this study examined the impact of state marijuana laws on youth drug disapproval, the mediating factors of parent and peer drug disapproval, the direct effect of youth drug disapproval on youth marijuana use, and the moderating roles of gender and race. Data were derived from the 2019 National Survey of Drug Use and Health (n = 1,910; average age = 15.71 years old; 49.2% female; 49.5% White) with youth aged 12-17 years old. Using structural equation modeling, this study demonstrated that medical marijuana legalization significantly reduces parent, peer, and youth drug disapproval, whereas the penalty severity on marijuana possession significantly reinforced parent and peer drug disapproval among the whole sample. The finding also indicates that parent and peer drug disapproval significantly mediates the relationship between medical marijuana legalization/penalty severity and youth drug disapproval. Moreover, youth drug disapproval, which is affected by the mediating pathways, reduces youth marijuana use. Additionally, the impact of state marijuana laws has different effects on parent, peer, and youth drug disapproval depending on gender and race/ethnicity. Acknowledging the contributions of state marijuana policies and social perceptive resources furthers the youth marijuana use knowledge base by providing a more integrated model of improving explanatory mechanisms and clarifying the role of socio-structural factors in drug perceptions and further marijuana use.


© 2022 Eunbyeor Sophie Yang

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