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Route of Cannabis Use among Emerging Adults in South Florida by Race/Ethnicity: Preliminary Results from the Herbal Heart Study

Abigail Cherenfant
University of Miami

Co-Authors: Amrit Baral1, Renessa S Williams1, Ranya Marrakchi El Fellah1, Sarah Messiah2, Raul Gonzalez3, Barry Hurwitz1, Claudia Martinez1, Denise C Vidot1
1University of Miami, 2University of Texas, 3Florida International University

Background: Within the exponentially increasing interest in cannabis research, there exists a recognized diversity gap within the field, concerning the underrepresentation of Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities in the literature. This study attempts to narrow this gap by examining cannabis use routes among young adult Black populations in South Florida. Such exploration is vital for a more comprehensive understanding of cannabis-related behaviors and underscores the importance of considering race-ethnicity in understanding cannabis consumption patterns.

Methods: The data analyzed in this study comprises a subset of cannabis users from the ongoing Herbal Heart Study cohort, examining the impact of cannabinoids and methods of cannabis consumption on subclinical cardiovascular risk among individuals aged 18-35 in South Florida. Participants’ race-ethnicity was categorized as non-Hispanic Whites (NHW), non-Hispanic African Americans/Blacks (AA), Hispanic/Latino, and others. Cannabis use was self-reported and confirmed through a rapid urine drug screening test. Descriptive statistics and Fisher’s exact tests were employed using SAS Analytics.

Results: Among total cannabis users (N=76), 57.9% were female, with a mean age of 25.0 years (SD=4.3). Hispanic/Latino constituted 51.3% of the sample, followed by AA (19.7%), and NHW (18.4%). The majority of participants used vapes (35.5%), followed by joint (34.2%), and blunt use (30.3%). A significant difference in cannabis consumption methods by race-ethnicity was observed (p=0.02). AA (40.0%) were more likely to report blunt use compared to Hispanic/Latino (25.6%) and NHW (14.3%). Similarly, AA (53.3%) were more likely to be joint users compared to Hispanic/Latino (31.0%) and NHW (28.6%). In contrast, only 6.6% of AA, compared to 57.1% of NHW and 43.6% of Hispanic/Latino, reported using vapes.

Conclusion: This study highlights the significant race/ethnic disparities in cannabis consumption methods among young adult populations in South Florida, emphasizing the prevalence of blunt and joint usage over vapes. Blunt use has been associated with an increased likelihood of cannabis dependence, nicotine dependence, as well as myriad other risk factors (e.g., perceptions of decreased risk) compared to other methods of cannabis administration. As a result, this may contribute to cardiovascular disease risk. Moving forward, targeted interventions and public health campaigns should consider these patterns in consumption routes to analyze cannabis-relative behaviors effectively among BIPOC communities.