States where cannabis is legal enable adolescents and adults alike to get easier access to using the substance. This means marijuana use is higher in states where it is permitted. Past research works have shown how cannabis legalization has increased use of the drug among the masses.
However, most studies have not studied how legalization of the herb has affected drug use in the long run. They have only covered the changes in drug use that have occurred over the period of a year after legalization.
Now a new study has also found that in states where recreational cannabis use is legal, more college students smoke the drug. This research work though looked at the effects for of legalization on drug use for a longer period. Researchers also noted that the legalization of marijuana and its increasing use have decreased rates of binge drinking alcohol.
Diving Into The Research Work
This research made it clear that marijuana legalization made the drug a substitute for alcohol. Scientists looked at 7 years of data from seven states where recreational cannabis is legal and 41 states where it is not. These states had 135 colleges and 454 colleges, respectively. Researchers found that following legalization, marijuana use increased.
They also found:
- College students were 18% more likely to use cannabis in states where it was legal
- They were 17% more likely to use it frequently in states where cannabis was legal. Frequent use was described as using marijuana for minimum 20 out of the past 30 days.
- Overall cannabis usage had upped by 3% rising from 14% to 17%
Interestingly, the study also made the following findings:
- Cannabis legalization lead to a sharp decline in binge drinking rates
- College students were 6% less likely to binge drink alcohol in states where cannabis was legal. Binge drinking was described as gulping down 5 or more drinks in one session
Researchers were not able to find out the cause behind this link. They said that more data is required to clarify the reason.
What This Means
It is good news that people are not increasing cannabis use along with binge drinking. However, it is bad to know that more college students are engaging in smoking cannabis more. It is important to know that for college students, cannabis consumption is risky with multiple side effects. Cannabis comes with the risk of depression and anxiety in adulthood. It is not safe for young adults as it also increases the risk of suicidality.
A new research work says that marijuana legalization has increased use of cannabis among college students. Previous research works have found the same. However, past studies have only looked at the effects of cannabis legalization following one year of the drug attaining legal status.
This new research work also found that in states where cannabis was legal, not only did students smoke more of it they also engaged in binge drinking less. This shows that cannabis is a substitute for alcohol, not for complimenting it.