New study suggests students drink less when cannabis is legal
Students are particularly sensitive to the legalization of recreational cannabis. This is the case for this new cross-sectional survey of the National College Health Assessment conducted twice a year from 2008 to 2018 at colleges and universities. The participants were undergraduates between the ages of 18 and 26 attending college in states that had implemented recreational legalization. Bottom Line: Recreational weed consumption in universities dramatically decreases alcohol consumption.
This information is not new to cannabis users, but potentially reassuring to the general public, a new study published in the journal Addictive Behaviors, suggests that college students are less likely to binge drink in areas where cannabis is legal.
Legalization of recreational cannabis is linked to a decrease in the prevalence of binge drinking among students aged 21 and over
Defining binge drinking as consuming five or more drinks at one time over a two-week period, the study found that states where cannabis is legalized for recreational use had a 6% decrease in chance of promoting occasional binge drinking in students 21 years of age and over. The study variables were defined according to the following criteria:
- Self-reported nicotine use
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- The use of illicit drugs
- Abuse of prescription stimulants
- Consumption of sedatives and opioids
The study was conducted twice a year, from 2008 to 2018, with 1,1 million participants aged 19 to 26. However, the effect of reducing binge drinking was only seen in students aged 21 and over, as 21 is the minimum age to legally purchase alcohol in all US states. , and for cannabis, in states where it has been legalized.
Under current prohibition laws, both alcohol and cannabis are illegal for minors, but that doesn't really prevent their consumption. However, at the age of 21, alcohol becomes the obvious choice, due to its legal and widespread availability.
"When you reach legal drinking age, a lot of people suddenly switch to drinking more alcohol because it's now easier to get hold of and marijuana isn't," says Zoe Alley, doctoral student at Oregon State University and one of the study's authors. “When we change that, so that marijuana is legal, we will see less substitution. "
The study also noted that in cases where cannabis and alcohol are more or less equally available at authorized retailers, fewer people turn strictly to alcohol, resulting in less problematic alcohol abuse. which constitutes progress for society.
This finding, coupled with the fact that most experts conclude that, overall, long-term cannabis use is much safer than alcohol consumption, adds another note to the benefits column. However, it is important to also consider that the study notes that cannabis and alcohol did not have an effect on the use of drugs and harsher substances.