Faculty Spotlight: Marijuana Use

Marijuana use is a major concern on college campuses. With the legalization of recreational marijuana use, there are concerns that use will increase among students. Approximately one in five young adults report marijuana use1 and marijuana use among young adults has been associated with adverse consequences, such as academic impairment2, poorer health3, and risky behaviors such as driving a car while high.4

Seattle Pacific University is a unique environment for marijuana use. Being both a Christian university and a university located in a state that has legalized recreational marijuana (with the first sale of recreational marijuana happening in 2014), SPU offers an environment that both reduces and increases risk for marijuana use. Research has provided evidence that religiosity may reduce adolescent substance use.5 Perceived risk, measured as the perception of how using marijuana may harm the user, was higher among adolescents who reported high levels of religiosity. Adolescents with higher levels of religiosity, in turn, reported less marijuana use – suggesting religiosity may be a protective factor for marijuana use, due to the perceived risk of use.5

How can we use this information? Supporting students as they increase and explore their faith during their college experience may inadvertently affect their views and use of marijuana. While it’s important to specifically discuss marijuana use and provide awareness of the impact use may have on performance and the health of students, it’s also vital to provide a nurturing and communicative environment for students.  One of the major predictors of adolescent substance use is stress, so when college students feel supported they may not need to rely on substance use to cope with stress.

For more information marijuana use and college students, check out the National Institute of Health’s most recent research and our previous blog post on recognizing substance use among students.

1Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2015). Behavioral health trends in the United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 64. Retrieved from http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FRR1-2014/NSDUH-FRR1-2014.pdf
2Arria, A. M., Caldeira, K. M., Bugbee, B. A., Vincent, K. B., & O’Grady, K. E. (2015). The academic consequences of marijuana use during college. Psychology of Addictive Behavior, 29(3), 564–575. doi: 10.1037/adb0000108
3Arria, A. M., Caldeira, K. M., Bugbee, B. A., Vincent, K. B., & O’Grady, K. E. (2016). Marijuana use trajectories during college predict health outcomes nine years post-matriculation. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 14(1), 1–14. doi: 10.14574/ojrnhc.v14i1.276
4Pearson, M. R., Liese, B. S., & Dvorak, R. D. (2017). College student marijuana involvement: Perceptions, use, and consequences across 11 college campuses. Addictive Behaviors, 66, 83–89. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2016.10.019
5Varma, M., Moore, L. S., Cataldi, J. S., Estoup, A., & Stewart, D. G. (2017). Religosity and adolescent marijuana use. Mental, Health, Religion, and Culture, 20, 229-238. doi: 10.1080/13674676.2017.1334045

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