Objective: To examine the role of ethnic identity in cannabis use, and links between ethnic identity, cannabis use and life outcomes, in a birth cohort of > 1000 young people studied to age 25.
Methods: Data were gathered on cultural identification, cannabis use, socioeconomic factors, childhood adversity, and a range of life outcomes as part of a longitudinal study of a New Zealand birth cohort (Christchurch Health and Development Study).
Results: Those reporting Maori identity had rates of cannabis use and dependence that were significantly higher (p < 0.05) than rates for non-Maori. Regression analysis suggested that the elevated rates of cannabis use among Maori were largely explained by their higher exposure to socioeconomic disadvantage and childhood adversity. Further analyses examined the role of cannabis use in the links between ethnicity and a range of life outcomes, including education, income and employment, mental health, criminal offending, and intimate partner violence. These analyses showed that cannabis use made a small but detectable contribution to rates of Maori disadvantage in life outcomes, with this contribution being most evident in the areas of crime, education, and unemployment.
Conclusions: Maori ethnic identification was associated with increased risks of cannabis use and dependence. The higher rate of cannabis use by Maori could be largely attributed to a combination of socioeconomic factors and greater exposure to environmental factors known to influence risk of cannabis use. The higher rates of cannabis use by Maori made a small contribution to higher rates of early school leaving, crime, and unemployment among Maori.
- cannabis use
- ethnic identity
- longitudinal study
- New Zealand Maori