Objective: Marijuana misuse by adolescents is a social and public mental health problem in Jamaica and globally. Research has suggested that family structure is one of the factors that influences adolescents’ consumption of marijuana. This study was undertaken to determine if family structure and parental monitoring had any association with marijuana use among adolescents in Jamaica.
Methods: Data from a nationally representative sample collected in Jamaica’s National Secondary School Survey 2013 were analysed. The study sample consisted of 3365 grades 8–12 students from 38 secondary schools. Descriptive and inferential statistics were computed using PSPP software.
Results: A significantly higher proportion of male (24.4%) than female (16.9%) adolescents reported lifetime use of marijuana. There was no significant difference in the proportions of male and female adolescents regarding marijuana use over the past one year (15.5% versus 10.4%) or over the past 30 days (8.7% versus 5.4%). There were significant differences in lifetime use of marijuana among adolescents from different family structures (Chi-square = 442.63, p = 0.00). The differences were not between one-parent families and two-parent families. Parental monitoring of adolescents’ school work was strongly protective against lifetime marijuana use. Adolescents whose parents paid attention very closely (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]: 0.34; 95% confidence intervals [95% CI]: 0.22, 0.52), closely (AOR: 0.49; 95% CI: 0.32, 0.99) and somewhat closely (AOR: 0.63; 95% CI: 0.41, 0.99) to what they did at school were all significantly less likely to have ever used marijuana.
Conclusion: Lifetime marijuana use among adolescents was associated with family structure but not from the perspective of one-parent families versus two-parent families. Parental monitoring of adolescents’ school activities significantly protected against lifetime use of marijuana.