The Proven Risks of College Students Viewing Marijuana as Safe

Mary Christie Foundation and Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation - October 2017
Students Walking Through The Park

Public opinion on marijuana use is shifting nationally. Surveys find Americans view marijuana as safer than alcohol and other drugs, and an increasing number of state are legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational uses.

College campuses are on the frontlines of this shift in attitudes. This first-ever survey of campus administrators on marijuana use and responses confirms that these shifts in law and attitudes are having an effect on student behavior. Most administrators in this survey said a growing number of students see marijuana as safe. Data on drug use bears this out: Between 2014 and 2016, annual prevalence of marijuana use among college students increased by 14 percent.

As more students view marijuana as safe, administrators are seeing problems associated with marijuana use. These include issues with academic performance (41 percent), decreased student motivation (37 percent), and mental health issues (36 percent).

In the face of this change, 79 percent of administrators believe that colleges "should implement policies and programs to effectively reduce marijuana use among college students". But only a third think their campus is putting a great deal (5 percent) or a fair amount (28 percent) of emphasis on the issue.

Download the full report.