It’s official – there are now more college students in the United States using pot on a regular basis than smoking cigarettes. For the first time in recorded history, tobacco has been edged by marijuana among students of college age as cannabis use explodes to a 35-year-high.
Indeed, contrary to the beliefs and suggestions of so many critics, record-high pot use does not in fact seem to be triggering outright anarchy or the collapse of society.
The findings were published by University of Michigan researchers following the most recent "Monitoring the Future" study. According to the data gathered, close to 6% of college students in full time education in the United States said that they use marijuana every day, or had consumed pot a minimum of 20 times within the last 30 days. For the first time, cigarette smoking took something of a backseat with just 5% of those polled stating that they were habitual smokers or smoked cigarettes on a daily basis.
This contrasts quite sharply with the results of the same study carried out in 1999, when almost 20% of students polled considered themselves to be heavy or daily smokers.
As for the reasons behind the shift, experts believe that on-going initiatives both national and local on the part of public health groups have had a huge impact on the attitudes of young adults to cigarettes. As the United States and various other countries clampdown on the sale, advertising and use of tobacco like never before, the positive effects of an avalanche of public health warnings appear to be hitting their stride.
At the same time, the researchers also theorized that the increase in marijuana use, though comparatively minor, is being fuelled by considerably more liberal, logical and open minded attitudes toward cannabis in general. In the United States in particular, it is becoming increasingly difficult for forward-thinking citizens to continue believing outdated propaganda and baseless theory on the subject of the ‘dangers’ of marijuana. Quite simply the largest and most important social, economic and medical experiments in the history of cannabis in the United States are playing out at this very moment across Colorado, Washington, Oregon and so on. Suffice to say, the fact that none of these states have imploded but are in fact thriving quite spectacularly seems to be drilling home an important message for the rest of the country – common sense prevails.
In addition to a marked increase in the number of habitual or heavy pot smokers, the study also found that infrequent use of cannabis had also increased from the previous year. In total, 34% of college students stated that they had used marijuana at least once in the past year, while 21% said they’d smoked pot one or more times during the past 30 days. Nevertheless, it was the way in which the statistics for daily pot use had for the first time shouldered past those of daily tobacco smoking that came as the biggest surprise to the researchers.
Along with the interesting cannabis statistics the study also brought to light evidence that binge drinking and alcohol abuse in general had experienced a marked decline. Quite surprisingly, no more than 5% of students said that they had taken part in binge drinking activities within the last fortnight, representing an encourage reduction in numbers year on year.
The survey also showed that despite a modest increase in the number of college students using cocaine within the past year, the researchers reported that more than half of all college students polled hadn’t used any drugs whatsoever within the past year – again representing real increase on the prior year.