Marijuana vaping among college-going students aged 19 to 22 increased from 5 to 14 percent between 2017 and 2019, according to the University of Michigan’s annual US national Monitoring the Future Panel Study released this week.
Vaping nicotine among students, meanwhile, rose from 6 to 22 percent in the same period, the study found.
“This doubling to tripling of prevalence of vaping marijuana and vaping nicotine over just two years are among the largest increases in MTF history for any substance since the study began over 40 years ago,” said John Schulenberg, principal investigator of the study, to Michigan University.
UMichiganNews: In 2019, college-aged adults used marijuana at or near the highest levels in the past four decades, according to the annual Monitoring the Future survey. @ysi_news @umisrhttps://t.co/4zwyPP1mdw
— Sara Fulton (@PWindastry) September 15, 2020
More worrisome is the finding that the use of marijuana among college students and youths not in college was 43 percent last year, the highest since the early 1980s.
The study also found that 6 percent of college-going students used marijuana on a daily or near-daily basis in 2019, while the same for youth not in college was 15 percent.
Adverse Impact on Cognitive Functioning
Schulenberg pointed out that heavy use of marijuana in the early 20s, when the brain is still growing, “can be detrimental to cognitive functioning and mental health.”
“…we know from our research and that of others that heavy marijuana use is associated with poor academic performance and dropping out of college,” he added.
Possible Reasons for Increased Use
One of the likely drivers of the dramatic increase, researchers said, could be the continuous decline in the perception of risk of harm among the users.
“Perceptions of great risk peaked at 75% in 1991, when marijuana use among college and noncollege youth was at historic lows,” said Lloyd Johnston, the original principal investigator of the Monitoring the Future study. By 2019, the perception had declined to 24 percent among the young adults, the survey said.
Schulenberg also suggested that an increase in vaping nicotine and marijuana heightens the risk of COVID-19 infection among the young adult population.