Cannabis use is up among college students in Oregon following recreational legalization of the plant, according to a new study published in the journal Addiction.
Using information collected in the Healthy Minds Study – a national survey by the University of Michigan on college students’ wellbeing – researchers from Oregon State University compared cannabis consumption among college students before and after legalization.
They found that usage increased at several post-secondary schools across the country, but it rose more dramatically at the Oregon school. No institutions were identified in the study.
“It does appear that legalization is having an effect on usage, but there is some nuance to the findings that warrant further investigation,” said lead author David Kerr of the School of Psychological Science in OSU’s College of Liberal Arts.
“We found that overall, at schools in different parts of the country, there’s been an increase in marijuana use among college students, so we can’t attribute that increase to legalization alone.”
The study – by co-authors Harold Bae and Sandi Phibbs of OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences and Adam Kern of the University of Michigan – is the first to look at cannabis use patterns following recreational legalization in Oregon, and the first to analyze the impact of any state’s legalization on college students. Oregon’s recreational cannabis law took effect in 2015.
“It’s an important current issue and even the most basic effects have not been studied yet, especially in Oregon,” said Kerr. “There are a lot of open questions about how legalization might affect new users, existing users and use of other substances.”
Using data from a large public university in Oregon and six other universities across the country where recreational cannabis use is not legal, researchers looked at frequency of heavy alcohol and