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University Cannabis use

University students throughout the United States have been consuming cannabis despite its former lack of legality for decades. Historically the War on Drugs, first waged by United States President Richard Nixon, and later championed by U.S. President Ronald Regan, made cannabis a Schedule I, making possession and use illegal. This was translated directly to college campuses with the Drug-Free America Act of 1986 and its later amendments, which allocated funding and financial aid towards public schools that instituted drug and alcohol training for students and faculty. Even further, colleges had to submit a report every other year to the Department of Education with information on their anti-drug and alcohol curriculum. [5]

Students make their way onto Memorial Glade on April 20, 2022.

Some of the earliest English literary accounts of cannabis use occurred within a fraternity in the mid-19th century. Fitz Hugh Ludlow published “The Hashish Eater” in 1857, detailing his reflections while using cannabis indica, and the reflections of his Kappa Alpha Society brothers who used the tincture as well. In the past, many students began using cannabis at their university because someone who already had experience with cannabis introduced them to it. These experienced students were placed perfectly to spread their knowledge because, “they had the reefers, joints, bowls, blunts, bongs, nails or vapes. They knew how to smoke it, how to hold it in as long as possible, and how to mentor others through the initial high.” [5]

Now, recent studies and surveys have shown that cannabis exposure is happening earlier and earlier. A survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows that 7% of 12-17 year olds from 2018-2019 reported using cannabis within the past month. [9] Additionally, in terms of those about to enter a university, in 2018  “around 30% of all college entrants report use of marijuana prior to coming to the school.” Due to the phenomena reflected in this data, more and more experienced students are entering universities. [5]


5. Beazeley, Jonathan C. and Stephanie Field, Cannabis on Campus: Changing the Dialogue in the Wake of Legalization, pp. 10-87.

9. “Marijuana Use by Age Group in the United States.” Kids Count Data Center.