Rate of US college students using marijuana reaches 35-year high

Marijuana use among college students spiked to its highest rate in 35 years, according to a study published Thursday by the University of Michigan. 

The study showed that in 2018, 43 percent of full-time college students ages 19-22 reported using marijuana at least once in the previous 12 months. One-quarter of students reported using marijuana at least once in the last 30 days. 

According to the study, the annual and 30-day “prevalence levels” are at historic highs since 1983, when 45 percent of college students said they used marijuana in the last year and 26 percent reported in the last 30 days. 

{mosads}Among high school graduates of the same age who were not enrolled in college full time, 43 percent reported using marijuana in the last year, while 27 percent said they used marijuana in the last 30 days. Researchers said the reported use within the demographic marked the highest levels since the 1980s.

The number of students who said they vaped marijuana in the last 30 days rose by 5.7 percentage points between 2017 and 2018, according to the study, with 5.2 percent of college students saying they vaped marijuana in 2017 compared with 10.9 percent of students who said the same in 2018.

“This doubling in vaping marijuana among college students is one of the greatest one-year proportional increases we have seen among the multitude of substances we measure since the study began over 40 years ago,” said John Schulenberg, principal investigator of the Monitoring the Future Panel Study.

Daily marijuana use among college students, defined as using marijuana on 20 or more occasions in the last 30 days, was at 5.8 percent, according to the study. Daily use has remained between 4 percent and 6 percent for the past five years, the report noted.

Daily marijuana usage among non-college students was 11.1 percent, a trend researchers called “worrisome,” as the brain is still developing at that age.

“Getting a foothold on the roles and responsibilities of adulthood may be all the more difficult for these 1-in-9 noncollege youth who use marijuana on a daily or near daily basis. As for college students, we know from our research and that of others that heavy marijuana use is associated with poor academic performance and dropping out of college,” Schulenberg said.

Researchers said the increase in marijuana use across the board could be due, partially, to declining perceptions of the risk of harm from regular marijuana use.

The results of the study are based on a group of about 1,400 adults ages 19-22, including 900 who were enrolled full-time in college and 535 who were not.

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