Of 9 Million College Students, More than 700,000 Use Marijuana on Any Given Day

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According to a new federal study, 703,759 full-time U.S. college students out of a total population of 9 million used marijuana on an average day and about 195,000 part-time college students out of 2 million used pot on an average day.

On an average day, some 1,299 full-time students had their first experience with marijuana and another 153 part-time students reported their first use of cannabis.

The data come from a report published last week by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The data has been collected since 1991 on the National Survey on Drug Use and Health that “offers insight into substance use and treatment among the civilian, noninstitutionalized population aged 12 or older, including young adults in college.” The current report presents information about substance use among full-time and part-time college students aged 18 to 22.

Note that marijuana is categorized as an illicit drug because marijuana use remains illegal under federal law in all states, although the laws regarding marijuana use have changed in a number of states over the past decade.

Here are some data points from the report:

  • Nearly 2 million full-time college students (22.2%) used an illicit drug in the past month.
  • Nearly 448,000 part-time college students (22.5%) used an illicit drug in the past month.
  • Of the 9 million full-time college students in the United States, 6% used illicit drugs for the first time in the past year.
  • Of the roughly 2 million part-time college students in the United States, 3.8% used illicit drugs for the first time in the past year.

The survey asked respondents to report use of drugs of nine types: marijuana, cocaine (including crack cocaine), heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, non-medical use of prescription painkillers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives.

Methodology: All estimates in this report are annual averages based on combined 2011 to 2014 NSDUH data. Because NSDUH data were combined from multiple years, the estimates that are presented in this report represent annual averages. In the combined 2011 to 2014 NSDUH data, there were about 25,400 college students aged 18 to 22 who participated in the survey, of whom 21,000 were full-time students and 4,300 were part-time students. These sample sizes represent an annual average of 9.0 million full-time students and 2.0 million part-time students. Read more at the SAMHSA website.

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