Cannabis is the second most widely used substance among youth in Canada, after alcohol. Recent evidence suggests adolescent boys and girls use cannabis differently. Gender norms appear to affect cannabis use patterns in ways that can increase the risk of harm. Understanding these differences is necessary to ensure prevention, public education and harm reduction efforts are best tailored to meet the needs of youth.
The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) conducted a study to understand how gender differences in cannabis perceptions and behaviours contribute to the risks for harms of cannabis use among adolescent boys and girls.
Highlights from the study include:
- Adolescent boys report using cannabis more frequently, competitively and heavily than adolescent girls.
- When buying cannabis, adolescent girls do so more discreetly and more often alone than adolescent boys.
- Adolescent girls are more concerned with social disapproval and stereotypes associated with cannabis use than adolescent boys.
- Some adolescent boys and girls do not feel comfortable seeking support for problematic cannabis use from parents or school counsellors.
- Gender-specific harms and risks are associated with cannabis use, which has implications for prevention, public education and harm reduction efforts.