Marijuana, cannabis, weed, ganja. All common names for a very common drug. We know, thanks to archeological digs, that cannabis has been used by humans for millennia in rituals, for recreation, and to gain the purported health benefits.
The effects, both good and bad, of marijuana are well known. With many of them not seeming entirely conducive to being an extraordinary essay writer or a professional in any field. So why is it that, if not for the nootropic effects, marijuana use is rising amongst college students?
For starters, marijuana use has always been high – pun intended – in this demographic. College is a time for exploration, and drug (mis)use is a common part of the journey.
Cannabis culture is now part of mainstream culture; legalization and medicalization have thrown the limelight onto the plant. Fourteen states, two territories, and even the seat of government – the District of Columbia – have legalized marijuana for recreational use. In addition to this, thirty-five states have legalized medical uses of it.
That means that 48 out of 50 states have a way to legally use the drug. Most of the population supports legal marijuana too: some of the most recent polls showcased support at 68%. Compare that 68% in 2020 to the 12% who supported it back in 1969. A huge rally in support has taken place as education, experimentation, and evaluation of the war on drugs have presented a strong case for regulating the drug market.
All this time, a solid part of students have continually supported the case for marijuana legalization; and by proxy the use of marijuana.
Legalization has removed the barrier for many reticent students to take a toke, because although still illegal federally, the law is now focused on targeting those higher up the supply chain, of course, racial disparities still exist, minority groups are far more likely to receive harsher sentences for marijuana possession.
As such, people who previously abstained for the sake of their criminal record are loosening up and partaking. Even the most ardent essay writer free time is spent getting high; because it’s legal and there’s a far lower risk of recrimination.
College students are also living in a time where the definition of ‘marijuana use’ is broadening. Previously, the methods of consumption were limited; smoking and making edibles seemed to be the limit. Nowadays, the means of ingesting the drug are multiple. Business, science, and stoned chicanery meant that the market is now saturated with ways to get high.
The proliferation of pipes, bongs, vapes, and dabs means people are also trying new means of smoking. Chemists have introduced ways to isolate specific compounds for those chasing specific effects. Either way, those students who previously found marijuana as an anxiety-inducing drug, now have a way to use the drug which can calm anxiety.
On the question of marijuana use in legal versus non-legal states, Oregon State University researchers published a study in the Addiction journal. The study demonstrates that in states where marijuana was legalized before 2018, marijuana use is 18% more likely than in states where the drug has not been legalized.
Drinking is another popular pastime of college students. A sister study to the previously mentioned one showed that in places where marijuana is legal, binge drinking is lower. The study used the same dataset and found that after legalization occurred, students above the age of 21 drank less than their peers who lived in states where marijuana was illegal.
A substitution is taking place though. Researchers hesitate to state why they think it is the case, but some suggestions include points made earlier in this article: reduced risk of criminal convictions and greater choice of the strength and method of consumption.
All in all, marijuana use is the highest it has been in 35 years amongst the American youth demographic. As time goes by, there is a question over whether marijuana use will decline and if legalization will remove some of the ‘cool factors’ associated with the drug. The long-term effects of marijuana consumption are still contested; marijuana could get a reputation of alcohol, the consumption of which has been in decline for several years now.
Students today are increasingly concerned about getting the most from their studies to succeed in their careers. This pressure looks to be transforming the way college students approach their time in higher education.
To recap, college students have always been some of the most frequent consumers of marijuana. In recent years, states have legalized, decriminalized, or made available for medical use the drug we know as marijuana. The combination of this legislative change with the increased knowledge on the health effects – both positive and negative – has opened up marijuana even further in a demographic that was already consuming it often.