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NIDA. (2017, April 21). College students at increased risk for smoking marijuana. Retrieved from

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Science Spotlight

April 21, 2017

Two joints and a stash of marijuana on white background©Shutterstock/Stephen Orsillo

An analysis of national survey data indicates that students attending college are at a significantly higher risk of beginning to use marijuana than those not enrolled in college, underscoring the need for improved prevention efforts. The research, conducted by scientists at the University of Michigan, was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health.

The study found that the increased probability of past-year marijuana use for those enrolled in college versus not enrolled was 51% in 2015, 41% in 2014, and 31% in 2013. Prior to 2013 (between 1977-2012), youth in college who had never used marijuana in high school were 17-22% more likely to use marijuana in the past year than their peers not in college. The researchers examined marijuana use before and after 2013, the first full year after recreational marijuana use was legalized in Colorado and Washington state.

The authors examined survey data from the annual Monitoring the Future study. These findings highlight the importance of developing and implementing marijuana education and prevention programs in a college setting. 

For a copy of the paper — "The Influence of College Attendance on Risk for Marijuana Initiation in the United States: 1977-2015"— published in the American Journal of Public Health, go to: (PDF, 606KB).

For information about marijuana use, go to:

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