Cannabis Use at All-Time High Among US College Students

A new study has also shared insights about the use of hallucinogens, alcohol, nicotine, and other substances.
10 September 2021
2 min read
Cannabis Use at All-Time High Among US College Students

According to the recent MTF survey, cannabis consumption among college students aged 19 to 22 has dramatically increased over the past five years and reached record levels in 2020.

One in twelve college students, or 7.9 percent of those surveyed, self-reported daily cannabis use. The findings cause concern among medical professionals who perceive the daily intoxication with the substance as a health risk.

Possible Impact on Cognitive Ability and Brain Development

The Monitoring the Future survey has been looking at patterns of substance use by young adults in the United States since 1980. And over this period, the daily use of cannabis in college has been steadily increasing.

The researchers at the University of Michigan who have conducted the recent survey propose an explanation: fewer and fewer young people perceive marijuana smoking as harmful. In 1980, 75% of respondents believed that daily cannabis use was unhealthy, and now the number is just 21%, at an all-time low.

John Schulenberg, who led the team of investigators, is concerned with this shift in perceptions. He points to the fact that young brains continue developing into the mid-20s and warns about the possible detrimental effects of marijuana on cognitive function and mental health in general.

Consumption Patterns in Non-Students and the Use of Other Substances

Among non-students in the same age group, the daily use was even higher — 13% in 2020 and the same as in the previous years. As for the annual consumption, 44% of college students were using the substance in 2020, up from 38% in 2015. For their non-college peers, the prevalence remained at a consistent level of 43%.

Young people also seem to perceive experimenting with hallucinogens, such as LSD, as low risk, and 8.6% of those attending a college report having tried some hallucinogenic drug at least once. It is also the highest number since MTF began their surveys in 1982.

Luckily, the prevalence of cigarette smoking continued its decline on US campuses where only 4% of respondents admitted having smoked in the past 30 days. The rate of binge drinking also went down significantly in 2020. But, since college students, on average, drink significantly more than those who don’t attend colleges, this is probably a temporary trend imposed by the Covid-19 restrictions.

10 September 2021
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