Neighborhood context and transitions in marijuana use among urban young adults

Beth A. Reboussin, Renee M. Johnson, Kerry M. Green, C. Debra, Nicholas S. Ialongo, Adam J. Milam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In emerging adulthood when many youth are maturing out of marijuana use, Blacks continue to have high rates of use and disorder. Theory suggests that factors tied to neighborhood disadvantage may partially explain this phenomenon but research is limited. Objectives: This study examines the influence of neighborhood physical and social disorder on transitions in marijuana use during emerging adulthood in a low-income urban sample. Methods: 379 primarily Black young adults residing in low-income neighborhoods in Baltimore City were followed-up annually from ages 18 to 21. Neighborhood environment was evaluated using a valid and reliable field-rater assessment of the residential block. Longitudinal latent class and latent transition analyses were performed. Results: Fit indices supported three-classes of marijuana use: no use, infrequent use and frequent use. Between ages 18 and 21, young adults tended to transition toward lower levels of use. However, neighborhood physical disorder was associated with transitioning to increased marijuana use (no use to frequent use; AOR = 2.712; p =.023) while positive neighborhood social activity was associated with a decreased risk (AOR = 0.002; p =.013). Neighborhood social activity was also associated with decreases in use (frequent to infrequent use; AOR = 2.342; p =.020). Conclusions/Importance: These findings demonstrate that physical disorder within the context of a low-income urban neighborhood adversely impacts marijuana use. However, even in the presence of physical disorder, interventions that foster collective efficacy among residents through positive social activity may prevent initiation and progression of marijuana use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1075-1085
Number of pages11
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 7 2019


  • Neighborhood
  • collective efficacy
  • marijuana
  • poverty
  • urban
  • young adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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