It’s remarkable how alcohol, a substance that we know can be damaging to the body, has been legal for so long but cannabis, a substance that can have a number of medicinal benefits for some people, has been illegal for so long. Thankfully, around the world this is changing, and has changed in the country where our business operates, Canada.
A decades worth of data from a survey of American college students with 1.1 million participants shows that of-age students are less likely to binge drink where recreational cannabis is legal. This is according to a study recently published in Addictive Behaviors, and it’s one of the only studies to investigate how university students’ substance/alcohol intake changes after states legalize recreational marijuana. This new study suggests that students are substituting cannabis for alcohol and binge drinking less often as a result.
For the study, researchers examined trends in college students’ alcohol, nicotine, prescription opioid and other drug use after recreational marijuana legalization. Data from surveys of American university students from 2008 to 2018 was used, researchers wanted to see how recreational marijuana legalization (RML) impacts other substance use trends.
The study highlights how RML was linked to decreased binge drinking prevalence among university students old enough to legally consume alcohol. After states legalize recreational weed, researchers observed a decrease in college binge drinking by an average of 6 percent.
Oregon State University Ph.D student Zoe Alley, one of the study’s authors, said the decrease could be accounted for by the wider availability of cannabis after legalization. “When you reach the legal drinking age, suddenly a lot of people transition to using more alcohol because now it’s more available and marijuana is not,” said Alley. Legalizing marijuana, by contrast, may prevent students who turn 21 from substituting alcohol for cannabis based on availability.