College students reported record-high marijuana use and record-low drinking in 2020

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic over a year and a half ago, over 658,000 people have died from complications with the virus, and nearly 41 million people have been infected. College students saw a change in behavior during that time, switching excessive drinking for excessive marijuana consumption.

A study that was newly released found that nearly half of the United States’ college-age students said they consumed marijuana last year, which led researchers to wonder whether the coronavirus pandemic may have spurred the record in cannabis consumption.

One says the trend underpins the changing practices during — and struggles to adapt to — the global health crisis. Nora Volkow, the director of the federal government’s National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) said in a report, “The pandemic seems to have actually made marijuana into an alternative to escape the monotony of isolation. It’s made life become more boring, more stressful. So if drugs let you experience that completely different mental state, I wonder whether that would be a factor that leads people to use them.”

The consumption of alcohol actually decreased during this time, according to an article from the Washington Post. “At the same time, reported alcohol use among college students dipped from 62 percent in 2019 to 56 percent, with the number of them reporting being drunk in the past month decreasing to 28 percent from 35 percent last year” (Washington Post).



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Ethan Finn lives just outside of Sacramento in California. He was involved in Boy Scouts for most of his life and earned the rank of Eagle Scout in January of 2019. A passion for politics prompted him and his friend to start an Instagram page all about politics during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic—@conservative.outlet. Ethan finds it fascinating to be a part of the journalistic side of news as opposed to always being just a reader.

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