Cannabis Perceptions in the LatinX Market
Generally, as compared to all other ethnic groups in the United States, the Latino community is less likely to report cannabis consumption. Additionally, while Hispanic people agree that marijuana should be legal for medicinal purposes, some of them are not in favor of making it available for recreational use. The differences in opinion on marijuana in the Latino community stems from the fact that there is stigma that is associated with marijuana due to historic events and religious beliefs.
GENERAL PERCEPTION OF CANNABIS IN THE LATINX MARKET
LATINX MARIJUANA USE AND PERCEPTION STATISTICS
In Table 1.32B of the "Results From the 2017 National Survey on Drugs Use and Health" report, there is a breakdown of marijuana use by age and demographics. According to the data in the table, in 2017, 33.4% of all Hispanic and Latino respondents over the age of 12 had already used marijuana in their lifetime. Of this figure, 16.2% were between the ages of 12 and 17, 36% were over the age of 18, 49.7% were aged between 18 and 25, and 32.8% were over the age of 26.
In Table 3.6B of the same report, a breakdown of the perceived great risk of marijuana use among persons aged 12 to 17 is illustrated. In 2017, 24.8% of Hispanic and Latino participants perceived smoking marijuana once a month as a great risk while 37.3% of them had a similar view on smoking marijuana once or twice a week.
On parental disapproval of youth substance use, the data presented in Table 3.9B indicated that in 2017, 87.8% of all Hispanic and Latino teenagers aged 12-17 felt that their parents would disapprove of them trying marijuana once or twice while 89.7% had similar feelings in regard to parental disapproval in using marijuana once a month or more.
In addition, the data in Table 3.10B of the report highlighted close friends disapproval of youth substance use. In reference to the data, in 2017, 78.1% of all Hispanic and Latino adolescents aged 12 to 17 stated that close friends would disapprove of them trying marijuana once or twice while 79.4% of them noted that their close friends would disapprove of them using marijuana once a month or more.
Table 3.11B presented data on youths disapproval of their peers' substance abuse among persons aged 12 to 17. According to the data, in 2017, 79.0% of all Hispanic and Latino teenagers noted that they would disapprove their peers trying marijuana once or twice while 78.3% of them noted they would disapprove their peers using marijuana once a month or more.
Table 3.17B presented data on religious beliefs among teenagers aged 12-17 in 2017. When asked whether religious beliefs are an important part of their life, 74.1% of Hispanic and Latino respondents answered that indeed religious beliefs are a very important part of their life. On religious beliefs and the influence it has on decision-making, 66.9% of Hispanic and Latino respondents noted that religious beliefs do influence their decision-making in life.
On legalizing marijuana, 48% of individuals within the Hispanic community are for legalization while 50% are for the opinion that marijuana should remain illegal. Additionally, in 2014, 49% of Hispanics that were registered voters were in favor of legalizing marijuana while 48% were against the legalization of the drug.
According to a February 2014 survey by Pew Research Center, Hispanic registered voters were divided over the issue of legalizing marijuana. 47% of the voters were for the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes while 34% supported legalization for recreational use. Additionally, 81% of the Hispanic voters said marijuana should be legal only in certain cases.
The study further in suggested that if marijuana was to be made legal, 61% of Hispanic registered voters would not like it if people used the drug in public. On the other hand, if marijuana was to remain illegal, 68% of Hispanic voters agreed that there should be no jail time for people that are convicted for marijuana possession.
Overall, when compared to all other racial/ethnic groups, Hispanics were less likely to report that they have consumed marijuana. This was evident from the fact that only 33% of all Hispanics and 41% of registered Hispanic voters reported that they have ever tried to consume marijuana.
In the legalization of marijuana in California, Nevada, and Arizona, Hispanics must have had a say in the process because of their numbers. In California, Latinos represent the largest ethnic group while in Arizona and Nevada they make up around one-third of the population.
Lastly, 48% of Latinos were against marijuana legalization in Nevada while 47% were in support of legalization. In Arizona, 49% of individuals within the Latino community were in support of marijuana legalization while 42% opposed legalization. In California, a different poll discovered that 69% of Latinos were in support of marijuana legalization. However, across all groups, millennials and Independents showed the most support for marijuana legalization.
STIGMA ATTACHED TO MARIJUANA USE IN THE HISPANIC AND LATINO COMMUNITIES
The young people that were raised in Hispanic communities said that Hispanics are generally misinformed on the topic of marijuana and the lack of proper communication that exists between them and the opposing camp is what determines the community's lack of support for legalization. In addition, the fact that the Catholic Church opposes the legalization of marijuana and the stigma that is attached to the drug also results in marijuana being perceived negatively by the Hispanic community.
In California, Latinos are often disapproving of the marijuana centers that are in the state and they were generally unhappy in having these centers in their communities. This resulted in members of the Latino community protesting against a marijuana dispensary opening up in the Maywood Area of southeast Los Angeles in 2016. Hector Barajas, a California GOP strategist stated that this would just be another challenge that was going to affect the Hispanic communities.
Latinos have been associating cannabis with something negative from as far back as 1910 when Mexican immigrants that were coming to America were received with fear. Additionally, their cannabis smoking habits were also received with fear in America. Lone Star State police officers went as far as suggesting that smoking marijuana had strange effects on people including causing people to become violent and unusually strong.
RELIGION CULTURAL VALUES AND MARIJUANA USE
In the American Latino community, the importance of religion and spirituality is a shared value. A vast majority of the Latinos in the United States are Catholic while some are also found in the Pentecostal or Charismatic communities.
In the Latino community, spiritual values and practices are intertwined with cultural values such as "personalismo, which refers to warmth and closeness in relationships and familismo, which pertains to the integral role that the family relationships have in the everyday lives of Latinos."
Religion plays a very important role in the Latino communities that are found in the United States. Catholicism is the prevalent religion in Latino communities and because it does not support the use of marijuana, the same has been transferred to the Latino community. This is because being part of a community that does not consume marijuana has resulted in conservative views within the American Latino population.
According to a 2009 study, religious attendance and becoming part of a religious network results in a predictable condition of reduced probability of marijuana use. National research studies have also confirmed that being part of religious congregations and frequent prayer are all factors that reduce the likelihood of marijuana use.
Another study that was conducted on a Latino community in Florida reported that there were no significant differences among teenage boys and girls in terms of marijuana consumption. The study also discovered that while religion is the most important value for people who abstain from marijuana use, independence and self-reliance are other values that are believed to predict lifetime abstinence from marijuana use.