Study Finds College Marijuana Use Linked to Poor Health a Decade Later

Several studies have linked marijuana use with a variety of health outcomes among young adults. One new study, “Marijuana use trajectories during college predict health outcomes nine years post-matriculation,” found that even small amounts of marijuana use during college could have adverse health effects later in life.

Published in the February issue of “Drug and Alcohol Dependence,” the study is based on data from more than 1,200 young adults recruited during their first year of college in 2004. Researchers followed the first-year college students for 10 years, collecting data on their marijuana use as well as their physical and mental health outcomes.

The students were studied according to how much and how often they used marijuana. Non-users fared better than the “late-increase” and “chronic” groups on most physical and mental health outcomes.

The study authors noted that individuals who escalate their marijuana use in their early twenties might be at especially high risk for adverse outcomes.

“We think these findings add to the substantial body of literature that demonstrates that marijuana does have health risks,” study co-author Amelia Arria, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Behavioral and Community Health at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, told the American Public Health Association. “We think it’s really important to dispel the myth that marijuana is a benign drug. In and of itself, marijuana does come with health risks.”