JUN 14, 2024 5:28 AM PDT

Study Finds College Enrollment Increases in States with Legal Recreational Cannabis

WRITTEN BY: Kerry Charron

A study published in Economic Inquiry found that states with legal adult-use cannabis programs experienced a 9% increase in college freshmen enrollments. The study compared enrollments and other college-related indicators of states that have legal recreational cannabis with those of states without legal recreational cannabis. 

States that adopted legal cannabis earlier than other states and public non-research institutions had the most significant increases. Non-selective public colleges in states early to implement recreational cannabis laws benefitted the most from cannabis legalization, whereas research universities and more selective institutions received fewer out-of-state students.

The study also found that recreational cannabis legalization did not negatively impact degree completion or graduation rate. In addition, legalization did not affect college prices, quality, or inā€state enrollment. 

The study showed that out-of-state enrollment increases outpaced in-state enrollments. This finding suggests that out-of-state students chose institutions in states with recreational cannabis. The findings indicate that some students perceive recreational marijuana legalization as a positive factor that influences their college choice. Future research should examine cannabis policy in the home states of out-of-state students to analyze college choice factors more closely.  

The research team identified some key future research needs to understand the impact of cannabis policy reform. Study author Ahmed El Fatmaou explained, “Future research should focus on how this policy impacts peer dynamics and the selection of academic disciplines, with a special emphasis on differentiating between STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics] and non-STEM fields.” Exploring the social and academic experiences related to cannabis policy will reveal insights into higher education trends and college choice. Previous research studies indicated increased cannabis use by college students and identified some factors, such as campus residence, age, and gender, that impact cannabis access and use.

Sources: Addiction, Economic Inquiry, Eureka News Alert


About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Kerry Charron writes about medical cannabis research. She has experience working in a Florida cultivation center and has participated in advocacy efforts for medical cannabis.
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