UNIVERSITY STUDENT PERCEPTIONS OF THE EFFECTS OF CANNABIS FOLLOWING LEGALIZATION IN WASHINGTON STATE
Stanton, Duane Leslie
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UNIVERSITY STUDENT PERCEPTIONS OF THE EFFECTS OF CANNABIS FOLLOWING LEGALIZATION IN WASHINGTON STATE Abstract by Duane Leslie Stanton Sr., Ph.D. Washington State University December 2019 Chair: Mary Stohr Cannabis is held to be among the most abused substances by university students in the United States. There is a presumption that Washington state’s widespread cannabis accessibility sustains and potentially exacerbates existing higher education student substance use, which in turn influences academic performance and conduct. Therefore, this study examined and presents findings from university students about their perceptions and experiences related to cannabis usage (e.g., frequency and quantity usage rates) and recreational cannabis legalization using a single site and mixed method assessment. University undergraduate students were found to have statistically significant increased academic and behavioral problems associated with more frequent cannabis usage and higher dosage levels. Students across all samples expressed perceived benefits from cannabis consumption that were associated with improved socialization, relaxation, and reduced levels of anxiety. More than four out of ten students who reported consuming cannabis products used cannabis for pain reduction, yet more than 90% of these students were not utilizing prescribed medicinal cannabis. These results suggested that substantial numbers of students were self-medicating for pain, as well as a host of other medical issues identified by the students. Conversely, some students indicated negative effects connected with their cannabis consumption practices. Students who participated in the individual interviews reported durational effects related to cannabis consumption that resulted in problematic daily life memory and cognitive verbal communication difficulties. The problems included vocal incoherence, unintended statements, and the inability to express their views or needs. These outcomes were confirmatory in relation to similar results revealed in the in-class and online student samples.