This article was originally published here
BMC Public Health. 2021 Jun 21;21(1):1181. doi: 10.1186/s12889-021-11241-6.
BACKGROUND: Given the high rates of cannabis use among Canadian youth and that adolescence is a critical period for cannabis use trajectories, the purpose of this paper was to examine the effect of the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic period on youth cannabis use in the context of a natural experiment. We used 3-year linked data from the COMPASS study, including 7653 Canadian (Quebec, Ontario) adolescents from which 1937 completed all 3 survey waves (pre-COVID-19 [2018, 2019] and online  during the early pandemic period [May-July 2020]). Structural equation modeling (SEM) and double difference (DD) models were used to estimate pre-COVID-19 to initial COVID-19 pandemic period change (2019-2020) in cannabis use (monthly, weekly, daily) compared to 2018 to 2019 change to adjust for age-related effects. Models were adjusted for age of entry into the cohort and sociodemographic characteristics.
RESULTS: In the SEM and DD models, monthly, weekly, and daily cannabis use increased across all waves; however, the expected increases from the pre-COVID-19 wave (2019) to the initial COVID-19 period wave (2020) were lesser relative to the changes seen across the 2018 to 2019 waves. The cross-sectional data from May to July 2020 identified that the majority of youth who use cannabis did not report increased cannabis use due to COVID-19 or using cannabis to cope with COVID-19.
CONCLUSION: During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic period, there does not appear to be a detrimental effect on youth cannabis use, when adjusted for age-related changes. Further prospective research is needed to explore the impact of the ongoing pandemic response on youth cannabis use onset and progression.