Study: Marijuana use soars among college students

College Students Substance Use
FILE - In this Feb. 1, 2011, file photo, medical marijuana clone plants are shown at a medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, Calif. College students are most likely to try marijuana, inhalants and alcohol for the first time during the summer, not the school year, according to the report released Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015, by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which examined data from the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A study of college students across the country is showing that daily marijuana use is not only growing, but it’s at its highest rate in 35 years. For the first time, weed is also beating out another habit.

According to the study “Monitoring the Future” by the University of Michigan, 5.9 percent of college students reported daily or near daily marijuana use, the highest since 1980. The study revealed that one in 17 college students smoke pot at least 20 times each other, according to USA Today. Regular use of pot beat out daily cigarette smoking for the first time, according to the report.

“Tobacco is a lot more harmful than marijuana, I believe,” said Matthew Kieltyka, a University of New Mexico senior.

Other students had their doubts. “I don’t believe that marijuana is more popular than cigarettes,” one freshman said.

John Steiner, UNM program manager for UNM’s Campus Office for Substance Abuse Prevention, COSAP, said, “We have tracked an upward trend of marijuana use at UNM.”

“I think the reason that we’re seeing that is that we’ve got more acceptance as a generally benign substance,” he said. “The states are legalizing it, medical marijuana is now very prevalent, so students are getting the message that it’s not unsafe to use and so they be willing to violate our own drug and alcohol policies to use it,” Steiner said.

“We don’t take the fact that marijuana is not considered a hard drug lightly at UNM. We do deal with it in our policies here on campus which prohibit its use,” he said.

“We know that marijuana can be addictive for about nine percent of people who begin using it,” he added.

UNM also has numerous resources available for substance abuse counseling.

UNM said a recent study on campus found that the number of UNM students who reported using marijuana within the last month went up from 25 percent to 28 percent from a year ago.

Other findings from the University of Michigan report found that ecstasy and cocaine use are starting to rise among American college students, while alcohol is on the decline.

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