Expanded Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Adult Cannabis Use: A Latent Class Analysis


  • Douglas C. Smith University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Rachel Garthe University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Alex Lee University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Shongha Kim University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Magdelene Thebaud University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Lucy Kovacevic University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign


In addition to traditionally assessed abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) include adversities like racial discrimination, community violence, and bullying. Prior research established associations between the original ACEs and substance use, but few used Latent Class Analysis (LCA) to examine patterns of ACEs. Examining patterns of ACEs may yield additional insights beyond cumulative risk studies focusing only on the number of different ACEs experiences. Therefore, we identified associations between latent classes of ACEs and cannabis use. Studies on ACES rarely examine cannabis use outcomes, which is important as cannabis remains one of the most commonly used substances and is associated with negative effects on health.  Yet it is still unclear how ACEs influence cannabis use. Participants were adults in Illinois (n = 712) recruited through Qualtrics’  online quota-sampling method. They completed measures of 14 ACEs, past 30-day and lifetime cannabis use, medical cannabis use (DFACQ) and probable cannabis use disorders (CUDIT-R-SF). Latent class analyses were performed using ACEs. We identified four classes, labeled: Low Adversity, Interpersonal Harm, Interpersonal Abuse and Harm, and High Adversity. The largest effect sizes (p<.05) were observed for those in the High Adversity class, who had elevated risks for lifetime (OR =6.2), 30-day (OR = 5.05), and medicinal cannabis use (OR = 17.9) relative to those in the Low Adversity class. Those in the Interpersonal Abuse and Harm and Interpersonal Harm classes also had increased odds (p<.05) for lifetime (OR =2.44/OR=2.82), 30-day (OR = 4.88/OR= 2.53), and medicinal cannabis use (OR = 2.59/OR =1.67(ns)) relative to those in the Low Adversity class. However, no class with elevated ACEs had higher odds for CUD relative to the Low Adversity class. Additional research could further disentangle these findings using extensive measures of CUD.  Additionally, as participants in the  High Adversity class had higher odds of medicinal cannabis use, future research could carefully study their consumption patterns.






Original Report