Study finds daily marijuana use at colleges has surpassed cigarettes

Daily marijuana use among college students is on the rise, according to a report by researchers at the University of Michigan.

About 5.9 percent of colleges students surveyed reported daily or near-daily marijuana use in 2014, which was the highest rate since 1980, the first year complete college data were available in the study. For the first time, daily marijuana use — which has slowly increased on college campuses since 2006 — surpassed daily cigarette smoking last year.

Five percent of college students reported smoking at that level last year, compared with 19 percent in 1999.

Daily or near-daily use was defined in the survey as use on 20 or more occasions in the prior 30 days.

Much of the marijuana increase may be due to the fact that marijuana use at any level is seen as dangerous by fewer young people, researchers noted.

At the same time, the increasing price and taxes, along with the negative perception of cigarettes have at least partially contributed to the decline in cigarette use, said Lloyd Johnston, principal investigator of the study.

Overall, the study also found that 39 percent of students used any illicit drug, including marijuana, in the past 12 months. That figure for 2014 is down from 41 percent in 2013, but rose from 34 percent in 2006. The seven-year increase was driven mostly by the increase in marijuana use.

The data are part of a series of national surveys of U.S. college students conducted as part of the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future study. The annual study, conducted with funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, has reported on college students’ substance use for 35 years.

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