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Oregon Researchers Find More College Students Consuming Cannabis Since Legalization

June 15, 2017

Researchers at Oregon State University in Corvallis have found that university students are consuming more cannabis since adult-use legalization commenced two years ago—especially at an “undisclosed large public university” in the state.

According to the study, the increased cannabis consumption occurred mainly among students who binge-drink alcohol, though researchers also found rising rates among students who are under 21.

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“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,” OSU professor David Kerr told the Register-Guard.

The study compared consumption by college students before and after Oregon legalized adult-use cannabis in July 2015. Adult-use sales began on Oct. 1, 2015. OSU researchers looked at seven universities across the country and found increases at six of them. The unnamed Oregon university posted the highest increase by the schools in the study.

Data from the Oregon university came from 588 students in 2014 and 1,115 students in 2016. In 2014, 21.4% of those surveyed reported having used cannabis. In 2016, 25.7% of students said they had—an increase of 4.3%.

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All told, the 25-page report, published Wednesday, uses responses from 10,924 undergradute students, whose ages range from 18 to 26. It keeps the universities in the study anonymous, as some schools are in states where recreational marijuana remains illegal.

Researchers also relied on existing data published by the University of Michigan. Kerr said OSU researchers focused on the seven schools in particular because Michigan had already compiled data from those universities before and after Oregon’s cannabis legalization.

“We can’t give the name of the institutions, either the Oregon one or the comparison institutions,” Kerr said. “That was part of the agreement to use the data.”

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The PDF of the full study is posted below:

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Gage Peake

Gage Peake is a former staff writer for Leafly, where he specialized in data journalism, sports, and breaking news coverage. He's a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

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