Reuters 1 September 2015
The number of U.S. college students smoking marijuana every day or nearly every day is greater than it has been in 35 years, according to a study released on Tuesday.
Nearly 6 percent of college students reported using pot daily or near-daily in 2014, up from 3.5 percent in 2007 but less than the 7.2 percent recorded in 1980, the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future study found.
Less frequent pot smoking was also on the rise, according to the study, although not as sharply.
“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,” said Lloyd Johnston, the study’s principal author. “And this largely parallels an increase we have been seeing among high school seniors.”
Loosened marijuana policies in states across the country have likely contributed to a rise in use by teens and young adults, who increasingly perceive the drug as harmless, the study said.
In 2014, 35 percent of 19-to-22-year-old high school graduates said they thought regular marijuana use was dangerous compared to 55 percent in 2006, the study said.
Nationwide, attitudes about marijuana have notably changed recently, with Colorado and Washington state voting to legalize recreational use in 2012 and Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia following suit.
The percentage of college students using any illicit drug also rose to 41 percent in 2014, compared to 34 percent in 2006, an increase driven mostly by the uptick in marijuana use, the study said.