Student Name:
Shannique Richards
Mentor Name:
Sarah O'Neill

The moderating roles of Racial and Covid-19 Trauma on the association between college students' cannabis use and psychosocial functioning.


Cannabis use among college students have doubled in the last decade. Given the trends in legalization of cannabis, it is expected that cannabis consumption will increase in college students. Cannabis use have been correlated with exposure to trauma, with racial/ethnic minoritized and socioeconomically disadvantaged college students reporting higher rates of trauma exposure, including discrimination and health and social disparities. It is possible, however, that the magnitude of the trauma x cannabis use interaction will differ depending on the type of trauma a person has experienced. This study aims to understand what outcomes are associated with cannabis consumption, and also why college students use and how they come to misuse cannabis Ethnically, racially, and socioeconomically diverse college students (N=500) will be recruited. Participants will self-report cannabis use, exposure to adverse or traumatic experiences – particularly COVID-19 and racial trauma – as well as psychosocial outcomes, including sleep, mental health (anxiety and depression) and academic performance. A sub-sample of (N=20) participants who report regular cannabis use (i.e., ≥1 time/month for the past 3 months) will be invited to complete a qualitative interview, which assesses their motivations for cannabis use. We hypothesize that greater cannabis consumption will be associated with poorer sleep, more severe depression and anxiety symptoms, and lower grades, especially for those with more severe traumatic stress. We also hypothesize that exposure to racial and/or COVID-19 trauma will influence college students’ attitudes towards cannabis use, such that individuals who have experienced more severe racial and/or COVID-19 traumatic stress will be more likely to report that their use is related to their experiences of trauma. Findings may inform policy on services needed within tertiary education settings, including trauma-informed care, as well as identify novel targets for intervention development.