Examining college students' use, perception, and knowledge of marijuana and marijuana laws

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University of Alabama Libraries

Marijuana is a highly utilized drug on college campuses that has a variety of adverse health effects. Since the 1970s, state marijuana laws have been consistently evolving throughout the United States, increasing accessibility and normalizing marijuana use, especially among college students. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the association that state marijuana laws have had on undergraduate students at one university in a southeastern state that only has a limited medical marijuana law, specifically in terms of use, perceptions of risk, diversion of marijuana, and marijuana law knowledge. The Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) was the theoretical framework for this study. A quantitative, cross-sectional design was utilized through the administration of paper and pen surveys from a convenience sample of 391 undergraduate students. No significant relationships were found between the type of marijuana law from students’ state of permanent residence and college student marijuana use, perceptions of risk, or diversion of marijuana. Additionally, no significant relationships were found between marijuana law knowledge and student marijuana use in the state of Alabama during the past 12 months or 30 days. Individually, all TPB constructs were significant in predicting behavioral intention to use marijuana in the state of Alabama in the next 12 months. However, only subjective norms (β = .189, p < .05) and attitudes (β = .406, p < .001) were significant in predicting behavioral intention to use marijuana in the state of Alabama in the next 30 days. When examining all constructs together, only attitude was a significant predictor of intention to use marijuana in the next 12 months (β = .484, p < .001) and in the next 30 days (β = .392, p < .001) in the state of Alabama. Although the results of this study did not find much significance between the variables, students did report high levels of marijuana use, low perceptions of risk, and endorsed several diversion behaviors within a state with a limited medical marijuana law. Public health education researchers and practitioners should continue to explore the influence of marijuana laws and marijuana use in college students.

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Health education