A study published last week found an uptick in cannabis consumption among Oregon college students after marijuana was legalized in the state two years ago. The finding was hardly a surprise. But what was unexpected is that the increase was due to underage students who were also binge drinkers.
According to the research, published in the journal Addiction, students who reported binge drinking were 73 percent more likely to also report cannabis consumption, compared to binge-drinking students in non-legal states.
The 25-page report was written by researchers from Oregon State University and the University of Michigan. According to the paper:
There were 10,924 undergraduate participants. One large public Oregon university participated in 2014 and 2016; six universities in U.S. states where recreational marijuana use was illegal participated both in 2016 and at least once between 2012 and 2015.
The researchers did not reveal the name of the Oregon university.
“We found that, overall, rates of marijuana use have increased across most schools and across the country likely, but that the rates in Oregon increased more,” Oregon State University professor and lead author David Kerr told the Eugene Register-Guard.
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Kerr was quick to point out that the study does not definitively find that legalization is the only cause of the increase.
“It does appear that legalization is having an effect on usage, but there is some nuance to the findings that warrant further investigation,” Kerr said.
“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 research discovered increases at six out of seven universities in the study. The unnamed Oregon university scored the highest in increased consumption.
The study is the first to take a look at marijuana usage patterns after Oregon legalized it in 2014. The law went into effect in 2015.
“It’s an important current issue and even the most basic effects have not been studied yet, especially in Oregon,” Kerr said. “There are a lot of open questions about how legalization might affect new users, existing users and use of other substances.”