More un­der­grads smoke mar­i­juana daily than cig­a­rettes

The Washington Times Weekly - - Culture, Etc. - BY AN­DREW BLAKE

Col­lege stu­dents are trad­ing in Marl­boros for mar­i­juana ac­cord­ing to a new re­port that sug­gests more un­der­grads smoke weed on a reg­u­lar ba­sis than to­bacco cig­a­rettes.

Re­searchers at the Univer­sity of Michigan’s In­sti­tute for So­cial Re­search re­ported this week that 5.9 per­cent of the col­lege stu­dents they sur­veyed said they smoked mar­i­juana at least 20 times in the pre­vi­ous month, enough to meet the school’s cri­te­ria for con­sti­tut­ing “daily” use.

Only 5.2 per­cent of the un­der­grads polled said they smoke cig­a­rettes roughly ev­ery day, how­ever, in­di­cat­ing for the first time in the study’s 34-year history that mar­i­juana is more com­monly used among col­lege stu­dents than cig­a­rettes.

“It’s clear that for the past seven or eight years there has been an in­crease in mar­i­juana use among the na­tion’s col­lege stu­dents,” Lloyd John­ston, the study’s lead in­ves­ti­ga­tor, said in a state­ment. “This largely par­al­lels an in­crease we have been see­ing among high school se­niors.”

The team be­hind the an­nual “Mon­i­tor­ing the Fu­ture” study said that the stu­dents’ an­swers in­di­cated the high­est rate of daily or near-daily mar­i­juana smok­ing since 1980 when it first started col­lect­ing sta­tis­tics.

Reg­u­lar mar­i­juana us­age isn’t all that’s on the rise, though.

Ac­cord­ing to the study, col­lege stu­dents are more in­clined to experiment with pot now than in years past: the share of the un­der­grad­u­ate pop­u­la­tion who said they smoked weed at least once in the month be­fore be­ing polled has gone from 17 per­cent in 2006 to 21 per­cent in 2014; stu­dents who said they had tried pot in the pre­vi­ous year has gone from 30 per­cent of the cam­pus in 2006 to 34 per­cent in 2014, the school said.

Cig­a­rette smok­ing, mean­while, is more un­pop­u­lar with col­lege stu­dents than ever. Nearly one-out-of-five stu­dents polled for Mon­i­tor­ing the Fu­ture’s re­port in 1999 said they smoked cig­a­rettes just about ev­ery day, and the latest polling sug­gests to­day’s num­ber is just one-fourth of that.

“These declines in smok­ing at col­lege are largely the re­sult of fewer of these stu­dents smok­ing when they were still in high school,” Mr. John­ston said. “Nev­er­the­less, it is par­tic­u­larly good news that their smok­ing rates have fallen so sub­stan­tially.”

Paul Ar­men­tano, the deputy di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion for the Re­form of Mar­i­juana Laws, NORML, cred­its decades of ad cam­paigns with the de­cline in to­bacco use among youths.

Speak­ing to The Washington Times on Wed­nes­day, he said the re­sults of the poll are “an in­di­ca­tion young peo­ple are aware of the ob­jec­tive fact that to­bacco is a far more dele­te­ri­ous sub­stance to health than cannabis.”

Cou­pled with a de­creas­ing pop­u­lar­ity with rou­tine al­co­hol con­sump­tion among col­lege stu­dents — another find­ing in­cluded in this week’s re­port — Mr. Ar­men­tano said the data sug­gests ado­les­cents can be prop­erly ed­u­cated about mar­i­juana if done so in the same man­ner.

“Why are we see­ing this down­ward trend as­so­ci­ated with two le­gal drugs, yet we’re see­ing ei­ther sta­bil­ity or an uptick in young peo­ple’s use of the pro­hib­ited drug?” he asked. “I think again it’s an in­di­ca­tion that one, crim­i­nal­iza­tion cer­tainly does not seem to de­ter young peo­ple or im­pede their abil­ity to ob­tain the sub­stance, and two, it’s a re­flec­tion of the fact that you can reg­u­late a sub­stance that is avail­able to adults while also putting for­ward a mes­sage to young peo­ple that this is a sub­stance that is in­ap­pro­pri­ate for younger peo­ple to use.”

“You can mo­ti­vate a change in be­hav­ior, and you can do it with­out crim­i­nal­iz­ing the sub­stance for ev­ery­body and or putting in place a pol­icy that calls for the ar­rest and in­car­cer­a­tion of re­spon­si­ble adults who use the sub­stance,” he said. “These re­sults have not been achieved by im­pos­ing blan­ket crim­i­nal­iza­tion upon so­ci­ety, but rather by im­pos­ing com­mon sense reg­u­la­tion and science-based public ed­u­ca­tion.”

Vot­ers in Alaska, Colorado, Ore­gon, Washington state and the Dis­trict of Columbia have all passed mea­sures in re­cent years al­low­ing for adults to legally en­joy recre­ational mar­i­juana.

Mr. Ar­men­tano told the Times that the Michigan study doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean other states will fol­low suit, how­ever, and said that his­tor­i­cally there’s been hardly any cor­re­la­tion be­tween mar­i­juana use and re­spec­tive pol­icy.

Ac­cord­ing to this week’s re­port, binge drink­ing among col­lege stu­dents was down 9 per­cent­age points last year com­pared with sta­tis­tics from 1980. Re­searchers spot­ted “steep declines” with re­spect to syn­thetic mar­i­juana and salvia in re­cent years, and said the use of nar­cotics, in­halants and hal­lu­cino­gens have all ex­pe­ri­enced a grad­ual but ap­par­ent de­cline as well.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Re­searchers at the Univer­sity of Michigan’s In­sti­tute for So­cial Re­search re­ported that 5.9 per­cent of the col­lege stu­dents they sur­veyed said they smoked mar­i­juana at least 20 times in the pre­vi­ous month.

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