Marijuana and College Students: A Critical Review of the Literature

Alexis A. Blavos, Tavis J. Glassman, Jiunn Jye Sheu, Amy Thompson, Faith DeNardo, Aaron J. Diehr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background: Marijuana represents the most widely used illicit drug on college campuses. Repeated use can impair students’ academic, emotional, and physical success and can lead to chronic diseases. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate existing literature on the associated effects of marijuana use on U.S. college students’ academic success, including conduct/legal issues, negative outcomes, normative perceptions, and physical/mental health. Method: A critical review was conducted in January 2015 using the PubMed, Academic Search Complete, Electronic Journal Center, ProQuest, and Google Scholar databases. Studies were included if they focused on epidemiological outcomes of marijuana use on U.S. undergraduate college students aged 17–24. Results: Overall, studies lacked scientific rigor. In several studies, researchers relied on convenience samples, used small sample sizes, did not report response rates, or did not report the psychometrics of the instrument. The majority of the studies were conducted at single institutions, limiting external validity. Conclusion: More rigorous and methodically sound research is necessary. Specifically, researchers should employ randomized sampling methods, collect representative response rates, and assess reliability and validity appropriately. Translation to Health Education Practice: Practitioners should design, implement, and evaluate programs that focus on social norms, acute and chronic health issues, and academic outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-184
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 4 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© SHAPE America.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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