Abstract: Marijuana Information Sources, Confidence in Marijuana Knowledge, and Objective Marijuana Knowledge among College Students

◆ Sung-Yeon Park, University of Nevada, Reno
◆ Nora Constantino, University of Nevada, Reno
◆ Gi Woong Yun, University of Nevada, Reno
◆ Lea Moser, University of Nevada, Reno
◆ Enid Jennings, University of Nevada, Reno
◆ Daniel Fred , University of Nevada, Reno

In recent years, marijuana use on college campuses became the highest while the perceptions of risk and social disapproval became the lowest since early 1980s (Schulenberg et al., 2018). Coinciding with the attitudinal and behavioral trends is the proliferation of misinformation about the safety and benefits of marijuana use, which affects young people’s attitudes and behaviors (Park & Holody, 2018). In risk behavior research, the relationship between knowledge and behaviors remains unsettled (Rock, Ireland, & Resnick, 2003), although confidence in knowledge, a metacognition about knowledge, has been consistently and positively associated with risk behaviors (Jaccard, Dodge, & Guilamo-Ramos, 2005). The current study was conducted to identify college students’ marijuana information sources and explore the relationships among the sources, confidence in marijuana knowledge, and objective knowledge. Students on a campus located in a recreational marijuana-legal state were recruited and 249 survey responses were analyzed.
Based on a factor analysis of various marijuana information sources, four groups were identified: parents; siblings; peer/media; education/science. Peer/media sources including friends, the mainstream media, websites, and social media were considered the most important by the largest number of students and used the most frequently to obtain marijuana information. Parents including grandparents and uncles/aunts were considered as the important by the second largest number of students and yet used less often than siblings. Education/science sources including school, teachers, counselors, healthcare providers, public health authorities, and scientific research-based sources were considered the most important by the third largest number of students and yet consulted the least often. Siblings, although considered the most important by the smallest number of students, were consulted more often than parents or education/science sources.
Students who considered peer/media as the most important sources exhibited higher confidence in their marijuana knowledge than others. Further, information seeking and scanning from the four groups of sources was all related to higher confidence in knowledge. On the other hand, students who answered education/science sources as the most important were more knowledgeable about the health effects of marijuana than others. Marijuana information seeking and scanning from parents, siblings, and peer/media sources—but not education/science sources—was all related to lower health knowledge. Information seeking from siblings was related to higher law knowledge. When the relationships among information sources, confidence in knowledge, and health knowledge were explored, higher confidence in knowledge predicted lower actual health knowledge while also predicting higher law knowledge. At a marginally significant level, importance of education/science sources contributed to higher health knowledge and importance of parents and siblings contributed to higher law knowledge.
This study revealed college students’ over-dependence on peer/media sources and under-utilization of education/science sources. The negative relationship between confidence in knowledge and health knowledge and the positive relationship between confidence and law knowledge are parallel to the findings of an earlier study where non-users exhibited higher marijuana health knowledge and users exhibited higher law knowledge (Bull, Brooks-Russell, Davis, Roppolo, & Corsi, 2017) and thus deserve more attention in futures studies.