The coronavirus pandemic that’s killed more than 658,000 people in the United States and infected 41 million, upended economies and moved classes to bedrooms may have added another change for college students: less booze and more weed.

A newly released study found that nearly half of the country’s college-age students said they consumed marijuana last year, leading researchers to wonder whether the pandemic may have spurred the record in cannabis consumption. One says the trend underpins the changing practices during — and struggles to adapt to — the global health crisis.

The “Monitoring the Future” study, funded by NIDA, has been tracking drug use among college students and noncollege adults ages 19-22 since 1980. Researchers conducted the 2020 edition of the survey online, querying about 1,550 young adults between March 20, 2020, and Nov. 30, 2020 — after the coronavirus pandemic had hit the United States.

Although the study does not address the causes behind these tendencies, scientists speculate that the pandemic’s toll on daily life and mental health may be one of the driving forces behind young adults’ consumption patterns.

The historic drop in alcohol intake, for example, coincides with a time marked by isolation, quarantine and a plateauing of social events.

“That’s definitely one the greatest pandemic effects,” said John Schulenberg, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan who served as the study’s principal investigator. “We clearly see that young people use alcohol as something to be taken at parties and gatherings. With the pandemic, those weren’t happening, so the alcohol intake and binge drinking dropped.”

With marijuana, the pandemic effects are not as clear, researchers said.

Read the full article at the The Washington Post.