GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA – According to findings published in the Journal of American College Health, college students who use cannabis but not other restricted substances do not appear to be significantly more likely to develop a substance use disorder or perform poorly academically.
Researchers from the University of Florida at Gainesville examined the connection between college students’ self-reported usage of marijuana and other drugs and academic performance.
They found that compared to polysubstance users, students who used cannabis but did not also use alcohol, cigarettes, or other drugs were less likely to report issues with substance usage, skipping class, or receiving bad marks.
The study’s findings were as follows: “The cannabis-only users used cannabis on more days in the previous month than any other group, with the exception of the all-substance user group (CACS—cannabis, alcohol, cigarettes, and other substance users).” These results would suggest that although cannabis-only users use more frequently than other groups, they might be less likely to have harmful effects from their use than users of all substances. This is consistent with other research that indicated polysubstance usage was linked to worse outcomes than single substance use.
The study’s authors wrote in their conclusion: “Overall, the current findings suggest that (1) alcohol use is common among college students who use cannabis and (2) concurrent polysubstance use of four or more substances is associated with an increased risk of cannabis and academic-related problems, including the severity of CUD symptoms, skipping classes, and lower GPA. Clinicians should evaluate and focus on several substances in addition to cannabis when addressing cannabis usage among college students. Compared to concurrent substance use, there were few risks associated with cannabis use alone. Therefore, it may be necessary to take action to stop the onset of new drug use.
The Journal of American College Health has the complete article, “Independent and concurrent cannabis use with alcohol, cigarettes, and other substances among college students: Rates and implications.”