A new study presents a finding that may seem obvious to college students, but not to people of an older generation: for the first time in 35 years, daily marijuana use has surpassed daily cigarette use among students at American universities.
The study from the University of Michigan reports that daily or near daily pot smoking is at a record high: nearly 6 percent of all college students polled reported that they had used marijuana 20 or more times in the past 30 days.
That’s close to double the number (3.5 per cent) of students in 2007 who said they smoke pot daily. Daily cigarette smokers, on the other hand, make up just 5 per cent of the current college population - though the authors of the study indicate that other tobacco use, such as e-cigarettes and hookah pipes, is on the rise.
Scientists behind the study, first reported by ScienceDaily.com, have suggested that the increase in marijuana usage is due to young people’s decreasing fears of the drug’s ill effects.
There was a marked decrease in the number of high school graduates who viewed pot as dangerous over the past eight years – from a majority of all students (55 per cent) in 2006, to just over a third in 2014.
This trend of increased marijuana use mirrors an overall increase of the amount of illegal drugs taken by college students over the past eight years. In 2014, over one in five students reported using some type of illegal substance other than marijuana sometime in the past year.
The study concluded that this is due primarily to the increased popularity of ecstasy, including the party drug known as Molly, and amphetamines.
However, the study also reports that the number of students using narcotics - drugs typically prescribed by doctors - for recreational purposes has fallen off. Less than 5 per cent of students report abusing narcotics last year.
Marijuana use is associated with fewer risks than long-term tobacco use. Though the results of this study may make concerned parents more anxious about sending their children off to college, they actually have less to fear, health-wise, than they did eight years ago.
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