College Students May Do Better With Weed


Marijuana use among college students has taken another spike upward, according to a new survey, but these students’ grades may have likewise climbed.

“As part of Inhale Labs’ Cannabis in College study, a series of surveys shows that daily or near-daily marijuana use among college students is accelerating faster than ever before, reaching 10.1% in 2016, up from 5.9% just two years ago,” Mike Hunter, co-Founder and CEO at, told TheLeafOnline. “The survey also found that the average GPA of daily marijuana users in college was 3.2, higher than the overall national average of 3.1.”

Not only daily use has increased, other casual use patterns are increasing among students as well. One possible explanation is that as students shift to cannabis and away from alcohol, they are less encumbered by hangovers and other negative side effects of alcohol use.

Other findings from the survey included:

  • 10.1 percent of all students surveyed reported using marijuana daily or near daily (defined as over 20 times/month)
  • 24.8 percent of all students surveyed reported using marijuana once or more in the prior 30 days
  • 47.0 percent of all students surveyed reported using marijuana once or more in the prior 12 months
  • 75.2 percent of students classified as daily or near daily users reported feeling more productive under the influence of marijuana

Responsible use of cannabis can benefit students

“A lot of college students and graduates use cannabis without problems and perform very well in school. This has been true for a long, long time now,” noted Mikki Norris of the Cannabis Consumers Campaign. “The key issue  is not if, but how collegians decide to consume cannabis. Responsible use includes a lot of different things — use for fun, for concentration, for relaxation, for medical relief, for spiritual benefits, etc. You can consume responsibly, while upholding your obligations and meeting your personal goals,  and still enjoy yourself, and probably enjoy it for a lifetime if you do it right.”

Two problems still remain for collegians. First off is the question of irresponsible use and how it might negatively affect student’s academic or personal lives. Second are the legal ramifications of illicit use: Adult cannabis use is currently legal only in eight states and all of them set the age of legal consent at 21 years or above, whereas many college students are under the age of 21. Since they get federal funding, most schools ban consumption on campus.

Norris believes that the first problem is relatively easy to resolve; giving people the right information about cannabis use helps to guide them into responsible use.

“For example, smoking a mild joint, smoking a strong joint, vaporizing flowers, taking a dab or eating a marijuana edible all have different effects. Students need to understand these effects and act accordingly. Likewise, if you blame pot for your problems or use it as an excuse for not achieving things, you need to reconsider your consumption patterns. If people say you are smoking too much cannabis, they might just be showing prejudice but, then again, maybe they have a point and, if so, you have to know when to step back. ”

College students on shaky legal ground

The second problem is a bit more difficult to resolve. While science has established that the human endocannabinoid system matures at approximately age 15 and people in most states are considered to be adults for things such as joining the military, voting in elections, getting married or signing contracts, the laws have incorporated the social bias against use before age 21.

A typical age of first use of marijuana, however, is closer to age 19. So, even in legal use states, college students spend a few years in illicit use status. Even after they hit legal age, most colleges and dorms do not look favorably on student use on campus or in student housing.

Like the 60s generation, students today use cannabis at a risk

While cannabis use does not seem to harm college students, the Drug War is still a big problem, especially federally. That is why college students are organizing with Students for Sensible Drug Policy and NORML student chapters to develop campus policies that are designed to help rather than damage students. There is still a lot of work ahead.

The findings presented above are drawn from Inhale Labs’ first annual Cannabis in College study, comprised of a series of online surveys from 4-year accredited colleges & universities across the United States. The sample size was 2,056 students this year.

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