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Record high: U.S college students turned to Marijuana in record breaking numbers during the pandemic


Record high! More college students than ever did weed during the pandemic, with 44% lighting up in 2020 – but the number who drink regularly has slumped by 10%

  • According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s annual ‘Monitoring the Future’ study 44 percent of college students reported using marijuana in 2020
  • Marijuana use among college students increased by 14 percent from 2006 when only 30 percent of college students reported marijuana use
  • College-aged students also saw an uptick from 32 percent in 2007 to 42 percent in 2020, a similar increase as their college student peers, the study reported
  • The rise in marijuana use has been partially attributed to the ongoing pandemic, and legislation which has made recreational use legal in many states 
  • Researchers based the data from online responses from 1,550 college-aged adults surveyed between March 30, 2020 through November 30, 2020 
  • In 2020 college students, a group more likely to report binge drinking, reported ‘significantly lower’ alcohol consumption compared to the year prior


More college students than ever are using marijuana, with close to half taking the drug in 2020 as COVID hit the US.   

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s annual ‘Monitoring the Future’ study, 44 percent of college students reported using marijuana in 2020, a six percent jump from 2015 and a 14 percent increase from 2006-when only 30 percent of college students admitted doing weed.  

And it’s not just college students who are consuming marijuana in record numbers, college-aged students also saw an uptick from 32 percent in 2007 to 42 percent in 2020, a similar increase as their peers in continuing education, the study reported. 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s annual ‘Monitoring the Future’ study 44 percent of college students reported using marijuana in 2020

Researchers based the data off of online responses from 1,550 college-aged adults from March 30, 2020 through November 30, 2020

Researchers based the data off of online responses from 1,550 college-aged adults from March 30, 2020 through November 30, 2020

The rise in marijuana use has been partially attributed to the ongoing pandemic, with many likely taking the drug to allay fears about COVID.

It is also likely due to legislation which has seen recreational marijuana legalized in an increasing number of US states, meaning students aged 21 or over can go and buy the drug as they would alcohol in states where it is legal.  

Researchers based the data off of online responses from 1,550 college-aged adults. 

They began collecting data for the study beginning on March 30, 2020, including the shutdown of college campuses due to COVID, and continued through Nov. 30, 2020, when cases were still surging. 

‘The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically changed the way that young people interact with one another and offers us an opportunity to examine whether drug taking behavior has shifted through these changes,’ NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow said in a release.  

‘Moving forward, it will be critical to investigate how and when different substances are used among this young population, and the impact of these shifts over time,’ she added. 

The rise in marijuana use has been partially attributed to the ongoing pandemic

The rise in marijuana use has been partially attributed to the ongoing pandemic

As more students are lighting up, fewer are drinking alcohol.  

According to the study in 2020 college students, a group more likely to report binge drinking, reported ‘significantly lower’ alcohol consumption compared to the year prior.  

College students reporting alcohol use in the past 30 days dropped from 62 percent in 2019 to 56 percent in 2020, the study said, while 28 percent reported being drunk in the past 30 days, compared to 35 percent in 2019. 

‘While binge drinking has been gradually declining among college students for the past few decades, this is a new historic low, which may reflect effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of reduced time with college friends,’ John Schulenberg, the principal investigator of the study said.

The study also noted a small decrease in nicotine and marijuana vaping, which was on the rise among college students from 2017 to 2019 and cigarettes smoking, which reached an all time low of 4.1 percent, down 3.8 percent from 2019.  

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