Gendered Norms around Youth Cannabis Use

Our qualitative study found that gender stereotypes play a role in the nature of youth cannabis use and corresponding harms. We conducted ten focus groups, divided by cis-males and cis-females, with youth ages 14-18 across Canada. Females reported fear of harsh judgement around cannabis use as it is seen as “trashy”, meaning they may be more likely to hide their use. Males felt pressured to consume large quantities of cannabis and all participants agreed males were more likely to use daily and while alone. Of concern, many participants expressed they would not be comfortable approaching adults, including parents or teachers, about cannabis use. These findings illustrate males and females experience different cannabis risks: males may be at increased risk for physical harms while females may need more support in addressing problematic cannabis use. We conclude it is crucial to tailor cannabis education and messaging by gender to increase effectiveness.

Presenters and slide deck

Anna Goodman

Anna Goodman is a Research and Policy Analyst at CCSA. Anna has been conducting qualitative research on perceptions with youth and adults and uses this data to inform prevention efforts and policy. Anna’s areas of expertise include cannabis, prevention and education, adolescent substance use, and drugs and driving.


Key Learnings

  • This study found gender-specific harms and risks related to cannabis use.
  • Males are more at risk for criminal and health harms while females are more at risk for harms related to safety.
  • We need to target education and messaging to gender-specific risks.

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