TitleChanges in undergraduates' marijuana, heavy alcohol, and cigarette use following legalization of recreational marijuana use in Oregon.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsKerr, DCR, Bae, H, Phibbs, S, Kern, AC
Date Published2017 Jun 14

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Recreational marijuana legalization (RML) went into effect in Oregon in July 2015. RML is expected to influence marijuana use by adolescents and young adults in particular, and by those with a propensity for substance use. We sought to quantify changes in rates of marijuana use among college students in Oregon from pre- to post-RML relative to college students in other states across the same time period.

DESIGN: Repeated cross-sectional survey data from the 2012-2016 administrations of the Healthy Minds Study.

SETTING: Seven 4-year universities in the USA.

PARTICIPANTS: There were 10,924 undergraduate participants. One large public Oregon university participated in 2014 and 2016 (n = 588 and 1115, respectively); six universities in U.S. states where recreational marijuana use was illegal participated both in 2016 and at least once between 2012 and 2015.

MEASUREMENTS: Self-reported marijuana use in the past 30 days (yes/no) was regressed on time (pre/post 2015), exposure to RML (i.e., Oregon students in 2016), and covariates using mixed effects logistic regression. Moderation of RML effects by recent heavy alcohol use was examined.

FINDINGS: Rates of marijuana use increased from pre- to post-2015 at six of the seven universities, a trend that was significant overall. Increases in rates of marijuana use were significantly greater in Oregon than in comparison institutions, but only among students reporting recent heavy alcohol use.

CONCLUSIONS: Rates of Oregon college students' marijuana use increased (relative to that of students' in other states) following recreational marijuana legislation in 2015, but only for those who reported recent heavy use of alcohol. Such alcohol misuse may be a proxy for vulnerabilities to substance use or lack of prohibitions (e.g., cultural) against it.

Alternate JournalAddiction
PubMed ID28613454