Daily cannabis use reaches record levels among US college students

9th September 2021

Daily cannabis use among college students increased to an all-time high in 2020 and the use of hallucinogens – LSD, magic mushrooms, etc – is reportedly also at its highest level since the 1980s.

According to a new study by University of Michigan researchers, daily cannabis use increased to 7.9% in 2020 among full-time college students between the age of 19 and 22.

The findings show “a significant increase” of 3.3 percentage points over the past five years. In comparison, the rate of daily use among non-students in the same age group was reported at 13% in 2020.

John Schulenberg, the lead investigator of the Monitoring the Future panel study, said: “Daily marijuana use is a clear health risk.

“The brain is still developing in the early 20s, and as the Surgeon General and others have reported, the scientific evidence indicates that heavy marijuana use can be detrimental to cognitive functioning and mental health.

“As of 2020, almost one in 12 college students used marijuana on a daily basis, and we know from our research and that of others that heavy marijuana use is associated with poor academic performance and dropping out of college.

“ For the almost one in 7 young adults aged 19-22 not in college who are daily marijuana users, getting a foothold on the roles and responsibilities of adulthood may be all the more difficult.

“Of course, the landscape of cannabis use is changing, so continued research is needed regarding negative consequences of heavy use.”

One of the reasons, the researchers concluded, that daily cannabis use has increased this much could be “the ongoing decline in perceptions of risk of harm from regular marijuana use.”

It is telling that while in 1991 three-quarters (75%) of 19-22-year-olds acknowledged the potential risks of daily cannabis use, in 2020 this number (21%) is at an all-time low.

Aside from cannabis, the use of hallucinogenics by college students has also been on the rise.

According to the study, 8.6% of college students had used hallucinogens – the highest number since 1982.

Mr Schulenberg added: “This continued increase in the use of hallucinogens corresponds with the decrease in the perception that hallucinogens are harmful.

“For example, the perception that experimental use of LSD carries great harm was at only 28% in 2020 among 19-to-22-year-olds. This is an all-time low over the past four decades and far below the highest level of 50% in 1989.”

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