Powered by The Ohio State University

News & Research

Trends in college students’ alcohol, nicotine, prescription opioid and other drug use after recreational marijuana legalization: 2008-2018

There is still little known about consequences of the legalization of recreational marijuana across the United States. Previous studies have shown that young adult marijuana use has increased in the states that have legalized marijuana. There is also concern that these policy changes may relate to other substance use. This study attempts to use a large national sample of college students to see how substance use trends relate to the legalization of recreational marijuana.

To complete the study the researchers used the National College Health Assessment-II. The study was conducted from 2008-2018 allowing it to survey students before and after the legalization of reactional marijuana. Each participant was asked about substance use (illicit drugs, binge drinking, nicotine use), substance misuse (drugs without a prescription), recreational marijuana legalization in their state, and demographics. Demographic questions included things such as gender, sexual orientation, relationship status, residence type, and race/ethnicity.

The data showed that the legalization of recreational marijuana affected binge drinking and sedative misuse. For students ages 21 years and over, binge drinking decreased and for minors, sedative misuse increased. When it comes to binge drinking, the hypothesis is that students over the age of 21 are now using marijuana instead of binge drinking. The researchers did not find any decreases in prescription opioid misuse or increases in illicit drug use. The researchers say that there should be more studies completed on community-specific impacts of the legalization along with specific age groups, subpopulations, and social contexts. It is important for providers to educate young adults on the dangerous of any substance use specifically marijuana use as its legalization continues across America.

Take Away: There is little known about consequences of the legalization of recreational marijuana. The current study attempts to use a large national sample of students to see how substance use trends relate to this legalization. Each participant was asked about substance use, substance misuse, reactional marijuana legalization in their state, and demographics. Data showed that for students aged 21 years and over, binge drinking decreased and for minors, sedative misuse increased. Researchers say there needs to be more studies completed on community-specific impacts of legalization. It is important for providers to educate young adults on the dangerous of any substance use specifically marijuana use as its legalization continues across America.

Alley, Z. M., Kerr, D. C., & Bae, H. (2019). Trends in college students’ alcohol, nicotine, prescription opioid and other drug use after recreational marijuana legalization: 2008-2018. Addictive Behaviors, 106212. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2019.106212

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of

Our Founding Partners