Marijuana Consumption and Access among Midwest College Students

By Ruggeri, David; Teti, Michelle | Education, Fall 2018 | Go to article overview

Marijuana Consumption and Access among Midwest College Students


Ruggeri, David, Teti, Michelle, Education


Introduction

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2014). The share of young adults who have used cannabis has dramatically increased while the age of first use has declined (Hall, 2006). Nearly 30% of students entering college have use marijuana (C. K. Suerken, Reboussin, Sutfin, Wagoner, Spangler, & Wolfson, 2014), and currently one-third of college students have reported consuming marijuana annually (Johnston, O'Malley, Bachman, Schulenberg, & Miech, 2014; Mohler-Kuo, Lee, & Wechsler, 2003).

A concerning trend is the increasing number of college students whom use marijuana on a regular basis. Marijuana use by college students has increased steadily, resulting in a 30 year high of daily marijuana consumption by college students, with one out of every 20 college students consume marijuana on a daily basis (Johnston et al., 2014).

This paper examines the differences in marijuana consumption as well as access to marijuana for college students enrolled in either a large state institution or a small liberal arts college. Although much has been published in the area of marijuana consumption among college students, a gap in the literature exists in scrutinizing behavioral differences between college students enrolled in either small or large institutions of higher learning. Given the differences in social life, culture, and resources at these different types of schools, it is important to understand and tailor any policies with these differences in mind.

Peers are influences of marijuana use (Barnett, Ott, Rogers, Loxley, Linkletter, & Clark, 2014) as approximately 93% of college marijuana use occurred in social settings where other college students were consuming marijuana (Buckner, Crosby, Silgado, Wonderlich, & Schmidt, 2012). Witnessing such behavior may increase the perception that marijuana smoking is a normal and expected behavior during college. Social norms have been shown to strongly predict more frequent marijuana use (Buckner, 2013). College students who are less likely to witness marijuana consumption within the college environment such as those who attend commuter colleges, where students traditionally drive to campus for their classes and then leave campus, are less likely to use marijuana (Bell, Wechsler, & Johnston, 1997).

Marijuana consumption among college students is concerning as negative health outcomes have been associated with this behavior. Marijuana use is correlated with overall negative well-being (Fleming, Mason, Mazza, Abbott, & Catalano, 2008) and worse health outcomes than non-users (Arria, Caldeira, Bugbee, Vincent, & O'Grady, 2016). Smoking marijuana has been correlated to lung cancer (Mehra, Moore, Crothers, Tetrault, & Fiellin, 2006), respiratory tract carcinoma (Taylor, 1988), increased the risk of head and neck cancer (Zhang, Morgenstem, Spitz, Tashkin, Yu, Marshall, Hsu, & Schantz, 1999), testicular germ cell tumors (TGCT) (Daling, Doody, Sun, Trabert, Weiss, Chen, Biggs, Starr, Dey, & Schwartz, 2009), and an increased risk of prostate cancer (Sidney, Quesenberry, Friedman, & Tekawa, 1997). Marijuana use has also been associated with an increased risk of ovarian cyst cancer for underweight and normal-weight females (Holt, Cushing-Haugen, & Daling, 2005), as well as an increased risk of cervical cancer (Sidney et al., 1997).

Individuals with a lifetime history of cannabis use are at increased risk of a psychosis outcome (Nordentoft & Hjorthoj, 2007; van Os, Bak, Hanssen, Bijl, deGraaf, & Verdoux, 2002). Marijuana use may trigger schizophrenia in persons who are vulnerable to the disorder, and marijuana may also be used to "self-medicate" schizophrenia symptoms (Hall, 2006). Heavy cannabis use at the age of 18 increased the risk of later schizophrenia six-fold (Arseneault, Cannon, Poulton, Murray, Caspi, & Moffitt, 2002). …

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