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Marijuana use among U.S. college students hits record high during pandemic, study finds

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Marijuana use among U.S. college students hit a historic high in 2020, and alcohol use might have taken a pandemic-induced dip, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

College students’ marijuana consumption rose last year, continuing a “significant increase” over the past five years, according to the federal agency’s yearly “Monitoring the Future” study. The recent surge has boosted college student marijuana use to its highest mark since 1983.

Alcohol use was less common among college students than in previous years. The study showed decreases from 2019 in binge drinking, getting drunk and overall alcohol use.

The changes in substance use came as COVID-19 forced college students to navigate social distancing, online classes and a muted version of normal campus life or, for some, a fully remote college experience.

Forty-four percent of college students reported using marijuana in 2020, the study found — up six percentage points from 2015 and a 14-point rise from the 2006 low of 30%.

Marijuana use among college-age respondents who aren’t in school has jumped from 32% in 2007 to 43% in 2020.

For everyone 19 to 30 years old, the study found all-time highs in marijuana use.

The gradual rise in marijuana use comes as more states, as Illinois has done, have legalized or decriminalized the substance. More than a dozen states permit recreational weed. [Read more at Chicago Sun-Times]

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