Marijuana use has been increasing among college students for the past five years, and reached a historically high level in 2020, according to an annual nationwide survey of young people.
The Monitoring the Future survey, conducted at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, found that nearly half (44%) of those attending college in 2020 said they had used marijuana over the past year, and 8% said they did so on a daily or near-daily basis. Those levels are significant increases compared to just half a decade ago; in 2015, 38% of college students reported marijuana use, and less than 5% said they used it daily.
Among young adults in the same age group (19 to 22 years) who do not attend college, marijuana use reached a historically high level of 43% in 2018, and remained at that level in both the 2019 and 2020 surveys
While marijuana use has climbed significantly, college students’ alcohol use decreased by about the same percentage in the most recent survey. They reported drinking significantly less compared to the period between 2015-2019, with 56% of students reporting alcohol use within the past 30 days (compared to the prior 62%), and 28% reporting being drunk in the past 30 days (compared to 35%). About 24% of college students reported binge drinking – defined as consuming five or more alcoholic drinks in a row in the past two weeks – during 2020, compared to 32% in 2019.
Monitoring the Future has been tracking substance use among college-age Americans since 1980.