Is College a Risk Factor for Marijuana Use?

Is College a Risk Factor for Marijuana Use?

Monitoring the Future is an annual survey of 8th, 10th and 12th graders. Conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, this study was developed under a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a part of the National Institutes of Health. From its inception in 1975, the survey has measured drug, alcohol and cigarette use in 12th graders nationwide. The survey was expanded in 1991 to include 8th and 10th graders.

In 2016, over 45,000 students participated in the survey which included both private and public school children. Analysis of the study data revealed that students attending college are at a significantly higher risk of beginning to use marijuana than those not enrolled in college. The probability of first time marijuana use in college students who previously had never tried marijuana was 51%. Before 2013, students in college who never used marijuana in high school were 17-22% more likely to use than their peers not enrolled in college. 2013 is a key year, as it was the first full year following the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington state.

The results highlight the ongoing need for drug education and prevention programs in the college setting.

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