Date of Award
Background: Societal views and many state and federal laws regarding cannabis are evolving. Cannabis use is increasing, with the highest prevalence among young adults ages 18-25. Both the 2021 National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) and the 2022 National College Health Assessment survey found that ~35% of young adults used cannabis within the last year. Methods: Students, faculty, and staff at a small, private university in Indiana were surveyed regarding cannabis use and mental/behavioral health. Participants were recruited via university list serves and social media. The anonymous confidential survey was administered electronically via Qualtrics between December 9, 2022 and February 15, 2023. Data was analyzed using SPSS. Results: Of 241 respondents, 175 (73%) admitted to consuming cannabis, and 142 (59%) admitted to doing so within the last 12 months. Eighty-five percent also self-reported anxiety or depression. Over 30% indicated that anxiety, depression, or stress was the primary reason for cannabis consumption. Most users perceive that in the 0-24 hours following consumption, cannabis improves anxiety/nervousness (63%), mood (74%), stress (69%), and sleep (82%). Most users perceive that acute consumption worsens one’s short-term memory (54%), time management (54%) and ability to drive a car (56%). When asked about long-term effects, fewer users perceive that cannabis improves anxiety/nervousness (47%), mood (47%), stress (49%), or sleep (43%). Although most indicated cannabis consumption did not have an impact on illicit or prescription drug use, 25% indicated that nicotine consumption increased and 22% indicated their alcohol consumption decreased in relationship to acute cannabis consumption. Sixty-five percent of users have not discussed cannabis use with their healthcare providers. Of those that did, 63% felt they could have open/truthful/productive discussions. Conclusions: Cannabis use and mental health disorders are significant public health concerns. This study conducted on a college campus in Indiana found 59% of respondents used cannabis within the last 12 months, with just under one-third of users indicating that their primary reason for use was anxiety, depression, or stress. Users were more likely to report improvements in anxiety, mood, stress, and sleep within 0-24 following acute cannabis consumption compared to long term consumption.
Gareis, Joseph Benjamin, "Cannabis consumption on a college campus: mental and behavioral health" (2023). Undergraduate Honors Thesis Collection. 694.