Parental Cannabis Use, Negative Parenting, and Behavior Problems of Young Children

Dalton G. Wesemann, Anna C. Wilson, Andrew R. Riley

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Cannabis use in the United States is increasingly accepted and legal. Rise in use among childbearing aged adults is potentially concerning, as the impacts of parental cannabis use on children are largely unknown, especially for young children. This study examined whether cannabis use is associated with increased risk for negative parenting and child emotional and behavioral problems among the parents of young children. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey of parents and child behavior, recruited through five primary care practices in three states. Parents of children aged 1.5–5 years reported on family demographics, last 6-months cannabis use, negative parenting, parent mental health, parents’ adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and child emotional/behavioral problems. We conducted hierarchical regressions to determine if parental cannabis use predicts negative parenting and/or child emotional/behavioral problems when controlling for other risk factors. Results: Of 266 responding parents, 34 (13%) reported cannabis use in the last 6 months. Parents who endorsed cannabis use reported significantly more negative parenting, ACEs, anxiety, depression, and child emotional/behavioral problems. Adjusting for the effects of other risk factors, cannabis use significantly predicted more negative parenting, but was not uniquely and significantly associated with child emotional/behavioral problems. Conclusion: Parental cannabis predicted negative parenting, which in turn predicted early childhood emotional/behavioral problems; however, parental cannabis use did not predict child emotional/behavioral problems when other risk factors were considered. Further research is needed to elucidate the nature and direction of relationships between parent cannabis use, negative parenting, child psychological outcomes, and other risk factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2015-2019
Number of pages5
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue number13
StatePublished - 2022


  • Cannabis
  • child development
  • early childhood
  • parenting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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