In a study conducted by researchers from Oregon State University, they analyzed the drug habits of college students within the state, and compared their findings to similar statistics in states that do not have legalized marijuana. Since Oregon legalized recreational use of the plant, there has been a noted uptick in college students who use it, when compared relatively to states with tighter marijuana laws. The conclusion of their findings was one that researchers did not quite expect.
Yes, marijuana use in college-age students had risen since legalization. That part isn’t very surprising. What had researchers’ eyebrows rising, rather, was the fact that marijuana ingestion in the form of smoking or infused edibles increased the most in students who drink heavily.
73% of students who responded during this study and admitted the use of marijuana admitted that they binge-drank recently. This could be true for a number of reasons, including that these students might just be greater risk-takers and more open to experimentation with substances, but there isn’t any concrete reason as to why this is.
Lead author of the study David Kerr stated that “Those who binge drink may be more open to marijuana use if it is easy to access,” while noting that those who grew up with spiritual or cultural reasons are still avoidant of the plant despite its legal status. It is also worth noting that this study also found that marijuana use by students and on campus have increased across all states, even ones where it isn’t legal.
The study also found that students under the age of 21 were more likely to use marijuana than older students, which raises concerns in terms of the young brain’s vulnerability to certain effects of the plant.
Some advocates of legalization support marijuana because they feel that youths would be more inclined to smoke instead of binge-drink, which is arguably a far more dangerous example of behavior. But researchers have found that this is probably not the case. Instead of substituting pot for booze, students are simply doing both.