Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Science


Health and Rehabilitation Sciences


Wedlake, M.

2nd Supervisor

Johnson, A.



Individuals struggling with emotional distress are twice as likely to use marijuana routinely. Young adults, ages 18 to 24, continue to be at increased risk for accidents, injuries, and poor cognitive functioning when using cannabis regularly, compared to those 24 and older. In addition, studies have shown that increased social isolation further increases the risk of marijuana use in young adults. Previous literature also demonstrated that marijuana is currently being used as a method of treatment for emotional distress. Much of the research conducted to date has focused on the collection of checklist data that has looked at the presence of positive and negative symptoms. As such, understanding regarding patient perception of this form of treatment is limited. This study had two primary goals: (1) to explore how individuals make sense of their marijuana use while being socially isolated due to the COVID-19 pandemic; and (2) to determine how their experiences with marijuana might shape their beliefs regarding marijuana use? This qualitative study was supported using a social constructivist paradigm. Narrative inquiry was utilized to deepen understanding of the unique perceptions surrounding marijuana use in emerging adults. Recruitment was purposeful to achieve an accurate representation of this population. Three overarching themes emerged based on participants’ experiences with emotional distress and marijuana use during a pandemic, which led to overall beliefs about marijuana use. This research will enable greater understanding towards how participants individual experiences shape their beliefs regarding marijuana use.

Summary for Lay Audience

Young adults between the ages of 18-24 are at higher risk than all other ages groups for negative consequences if they use marijuana routinely. Studies have also shown that social isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic further increases the risk of negative outcomes for this group. However, there is little in the literature that speaks to individual perception of marijuana use during the increased social isolation that many are experiencing in response to COVID-19.

This project will seek to (1) to explore how individuals make sense of their marijuana use while being socially isolated due to COVID-19; and (2) to understand how study participants’ experiences with marijuana have shaped their beliefs regarding marijuana use?