New Study Suggests College Students Trying More Weed, Less Alcohol

Is the pandemic a factor here?

Marijuana leaf
A new survey offers interesting information on college students, alcohol and marijuana.
Kym MacKinnon/Unsplash

If you’ve ever spent time arguing against the stereotype of perennially drunk college students, congratulations! There’s a new study out in the world that offers a reason to believe that college students are indeed drinking less than they have in the past. The data suggests something else, however — that it’s less a case of students partaking less overall and more changing what they’re partaking.

At The Washington Post, María Luisa Paúl reported on a new study which revealed that “nearly half of the country’s college-age students said they consumed marijuana last year.” The study came from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, whose director Nora Volkow told the Post that “[t]he pandemic seems to have actually made marijuana into an alternative to escape the monotony of isolation.”

Of the students surveyed, 44% had used marijuana in 2020, a six-percent increase from 2015. Alcohol use, however, dropped from 62% in 2019 to 56% last year. Also increasing from 2019 to 2020? Use of hallucinogens, among both college-aged students and non-students.

There are some other explanations for the increase in marijuana use and the decline in alcohol use than simply the pandemic. The trend of preferring marijuana to alcohol is also something that’s been documented in millennials. And the increasing number of states where marijuana is legal could also play a role.

The article also points to alcohol’s role in social events — something that was significantly down last year — as another factor in these numbers. Will the evolution of the pandemic continue to shape students’ alcohol and cannabis intake? We’ll know around this time next year.


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