The number of US university students who smoke cannabis on a near-daily basis is at its greatest for 35 years – and has even surpassed daily cigarette use, according to a recent study.
As part of the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future study, a series of national surveys showed use of the drug has been growing slowly on the nation’s campuses since 2006, with 5.9 per cent saying they smoke it almost every day – the highest number since 1980.
This figure is up considerably from 2007 when 3.5 per cent admitted to the same, meaning one in every 17 university students is now smoking marijuana on a daily or near-daily basis.
Principal investigator of the study, Lloyd Johnston, described how it was clear to see the increase emerge over the past seven to eight years and said: “This largely parallels an increase we have been seeing among high school seniors.”
The study acknowledged how the rise in the number of students using the drug more frequently may be down to how younger people view it: in 2006, 55 per cent of all 19 to 22-year-old high school graduates saw regular marijuana use as being dangerous, whereas only 35 per cent saw it as being the same by 2014. Relaxed marijuana policies in states across the country may also have contributed to the rise.
Across America, attitudes about the drug have been changing, with the states of Colorado and Washington voting to legalise recreational use in 2012. Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia have also followed suit.
The percentage of university students using any illicit drug also rose to 41 per cent in 2014, compared with 34 per cent in 2006 – an increase driven mostly by the uptick in marijuana use, the study said.
However, the use of many illicit drugs by these students has seen a sharp drop, including synthetic marijuana which decreased to 0.9 per cent in 2014 from 7.4 per cent in 2011 when it was first recorded. Heroin and LSD have also remained low in recent years.
Amphetamines – associated with studying – and ecstasy continued to be prevalent, although results showed how their use has been levelling out or declining.
Where cannabis is and isn't legal
Where cannabis is and isn't legal
Having been reclassified in 2009 from a Class C to a Class B drug, cannabis is now the most used illegal drug within the United Kingdom. The UK is also, however, the only country where Sativex – a prescribed drug that helps to combat muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis and contains some ingredients that are also found in cannabis - is licensed as a treatment
2/12 North Korea
Although many people believe the consumption of cannabis in North Korea to be legal, the official law regarding the drug has never been made entirely clear whilst under Kim Jong Un’s regime. However, it is said that the North Korean leader himself has openly said that he does not consider cannabis to be a drug and his regime doesn’t take any issue with the consumption or sale of the drug
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In the Netherlands smoking cannabis is legal, given that it is smoked within the designated ‘smoking areas’ and you don’t possess more than 5 grams for personal use. It is also legal to sell the substance, but only in specified coffee shops
Although in some states of America cannabis has now been legalised, prior to the legalisation, police in the U.S. could make a marijuana-related arrest every 42 seconds, according to US News and World Report. The country also used to spend around $3.6 billion a year enforcing marijuana law, the American Civil Liberties Union notes
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Despite cannabis being officially illegal in Spain, the European hotspot has recently started to be branded, ‘the new Amsterdam’. This is because across Spain there are over 700 ‘Cannabis Clubs’ – these are considered legal venues to consume cannabis in because the consumption of the drug is in private, and not in public. These figures have risen dramatically in the last three years – in 2010 there were just 40 Cannabis Clubs in the whole of Spain. Recent figures also show that in Catalonia alone there are 165,000 registered members of cannabis clubs – this amounts to over 5 million euros (£4 million) in revenue each month
In December 2013, the House of Representatives and Senate passed a bill legalizing and regulating the production and sale of the drug. But the president has since postponed the legalization of cannabis until to 2015 and when it is made legal, it will be the authorities who will grow the cannabis that can be sold legally. Buyers must be 18 or older, residents of Uruguay, and must register with the authorities
Despite the fact that laws prohibiting the sale and misuse of cannabis exist and is considered a habit only entertained by lower-income groups, it is very rarely enforced. The occasional use of cannabis in community gatherings is broadly tolerated as a centuries old custom. The open use of cannabis by Sufis and Hindus as a means to induce euphoria has never been challenged by the state. Further, large tracts of cannabis grow unchecked in the wild
In 2001, Portugal became the first country in the world to decriminalize the use of all drugs, and started treating drug users as sick people, instead of criminals. However, you can still be arrested or assigned mandatory rehab if you are caught several times in possession of drugs
9/12 Puerto Rico
Although the use of cannabis is currently illegal, it is said that Puerto Rico are in the process of decriminalising it
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The US state became the first in the country to legalise marijuana in January 2014. In February 2015, President Obama recently said he expects to see more states "looking into" legalisation. However, it is illegally to grow more than six cannabis plants and to possess more than 28 grams of the drug
Oaksterdam in Oakland, California, is the world's only university dedicated to the study and cultivation of cannabis. If you are court in California with anything up to an ounce of cannabis, you will be fine $100, but you will not get a criminal record, nor will you have to appear in court
Cannabis is grown in the wild and has been used to treat conditions such as gout and malaria. But, officially the substance is illegal to consume, possess and sell
When it came to the daily use of cigarettes, only 5 per cent indicated smoking at that level, compared with 19 per cent in 1999 – a drop of nearly three fourths.
Describing these findings as good news, Mr Johnston said the declines in smoking at university are largely the result of fewer of these students smoking when they were still in high school.
Past-year use of cocaine also showed a statistically significant increase from 2.7 per cent in 2013 to 4.4 per cent in 2014, which Mr Johnston said was being interpreted with caution as it has not occurred among high school students.
He added: “We do see some increase in cocaine use in other young adult age bands, so there may in fact be an increase in cocaine use beginning to occur.”
Additional reporting courtesy of ReutersReuse content