- Posted by Austin Swim
- On October 15, 2015
- 0 Comments
According to a study conducted at the University of Michigan, daily marijuana use has now surpassed daily cigarette use among college students in the United States. Researchers estimate that about 1 in every 17 college students use marijuana on a daily or near-daily basis—a rate that hasn’t been so high since the 1980s.
These findings come out of the University of Michigan’s larger Monitoring The Future (MTF) study, a comprehensive survey that has collected drug use statistics among US college students annually since 1980. Lead researcher Lloyd Johnston, a distinguished senior research scientist and Angus Campbell Collegiate Research Professor, comments, “It’s clear that for the past 7 or 8 years there has been an increase in marijuana use among the nation’s college students.” He adds, “And this largely parallels an increase we have been seeing among high school seniors.”
The study found that there has been a general increase in occasional marijuana users as well. Between 2006 and 2014, the percentage of students who reported using marijuana at least once within the past 30 days increased from 17% to 21%. The percentage of students who reported using marijuana within the past year increased from 30% to 34% over the same time period.
There is still debate concerning what may be behind these changes in marijuana use. Many experts feel that it could be due to changing opinions. The study, in fact, found that marijuana is perceived to be less dangerous now that is has been in the past. In 2006, for example, 55% of high school graduates aged 19 to 22 saw regular marijuana use as dangerous, and by 2014, this percentage was only 31%.
Meanwhile, cigarette use among college students has been on the decline. In 1999, the percentage of students who reported smoking cigarettes within the past 30 days was 31%, while by 2014 that percentage had fallen to 13%. Percentages for daily use are even less; in 1999, 19% of students reported daily use, while in 2014 that percentage was only 5%.
The University of Michigan study did offer some insights into illicit drug use on college campuses as well. In general, illicit substance use is lower among college students than it is among their noncollege peers. However, amphetamine use and alcohol use are two exceptions; use of those substances seems to be higher among college students. In 2014, amphetamine use, for example, was 10.1% among college students, while among noncollege peers that percentage was 9.2%. Researcher Lloyd Johnston suggests one potential reason behind this trend: “It seems likely that this increase in amphetamine use on the college campus resulted from more students using these drugs to try to improve their studies and test performance.”