A Qualitative Study: Undergraduate Students’ Attitudes and Beliefs about Marijuana

Faculty Sponsor

Terry Kessler





ORCID Identifier(s)


Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-3-2018


Young adults often initiate marijuana use during college (Suerken et al., 2014) which has resulted in marijuana being reported as the most prevalent illicit drug used on college campuses (Johnston et al., 2012). Students are in favor of legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational use in adults and believe using marijuana is safer than alcohol (Pearson et al., 2016). The aim of this study was to assess attitudes and beliefs about marijuana among undergraduate students at a faith-based, Mid-western university. Fitting with social learning theory, beliefs and attitudes towards drug use are derived from a variety of sources including social norms and perceived effects (Bandura, 1986). Undergraduate students during the 2016-2017 academic year were recruited through courses and campus posters. Data were collected using structured, open-ended questions regarding students’ attitudes and beliefs about marijuana. Four focus groups were recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed for trends and categories. Thirty-seven students participated (18-36 years, M = 19.9). Each group included 6-12 students. The majority were white (76%), female (59%), and non-Greek affiliated (70%). Nineteen percent reported using marijuana within the last 30 days. Five descriptive categories were identified: media exposure, attitudes toward use, perceived societal benefits, reasons for usage, and legalization and regulation. Students reported increased exposure to marijuana-related content in various media sources. Students believed societal attitudes about marijuana use are becoming more relaxed, and they are accepting of its use for both medicinal and recreational purposes.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Bradley Adkins, Ellie Ashbrook, Andrea Pertl: Senior Nursing Students

Madissen Brookshire-Green, Guadalupe Ortiz, Olivia Smith: Junior Nursing Students

Emma Kamp, Kayleigh Willett: Sophomore Nursing Students

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