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Projecting and Monitoring the Life Course of the Marijuana/Blunts Generation

NCJ Number
Journal of Drug Issues Volume: 34 Issue: 2 Dated: Spring 2004 Pages: 361-388
Date Published
28 pages

After a review of research that indicates drug eras tend to follow a regular course, this paper projects trends in young adult substance use into the future, with attention to the extent to which the marijuana/blunts generation will continue marijuana use.


Major drug surveillance programs have all indicated that marijuana use increased among American youth and young adults during the 1990's, as the use of crack, powder cocaine, and heroin decreased in this population. Qualitative and survey data indicate that many American youths have been using marijuana in a blunt, an inexpensive cigar in which the tobacco filler is replaced with marijuana. This paper refers to persons born since 1970 and entering their 20's since 1990 as the marijuana/blunts generation. This paper provides projections for the future of the marijuana/blunts generation, focusing on the extent to which members of the marijuana/blunts generation will use other illicit drugs, as well as the extent to which they will continue to use marijuana into adulthood. The study addressed two populations: the general population, as measured by the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA), and a group with weaker ties to conventional society and historically high rates of illicit drug use, namely, arrestees recruited by the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) program for Manhattan. The study concludes that the marijuana/blunts generation may successfully avoid "hard drugs" and associated health, social, and legal problems for their entire life, but they may experience higher levels of smoking-related ailments. Socially, the marijuana/blunts generation has better prospects for successful integration into conventional society; however, impoverished members of this generation may tend to fare no better than preceding generations ravaged by crack smoking and heroin injection. Many may turn to persistent heavy alcohol use. Because members of the marijuana/blunts generation may become the pioneers of the next era of hard drugs, it is important to continue to monitor drug use over the life course for this multiyear birth cohort, especially among arrestees. 5 figures, 10 notes, and 62 references

Date Published: January 1, 2004