Despite record-breaking rates of annual marijuana use among college students and an increasing number of states enacting recreational and medical marijuana legalization in the U.S, research on marijuana use among college students is fairly limited in limited in substantial areas. First, prior research has yet to measure various types of social determinants against marijuana use, as well as differentiate between lifetime and prolonged use. In this context, this study explores which social influences play a significant role in college students’ lifetime and habitual use. Specifically, this study investigates how peer influence, normative perceptions, and marijuana legalization influence the lifetime and habitual use of college students. Drawing upon survey data collected from undergraduate students at a college in the Northeast (n = 213), this study reveals significant associations between close friend marijuana use, perceived social acceptability of marijuana, perceptions of peer use, ease of marijuana access, and lifetime marijuana use. The use of classmates, close family members and friends, as well the perceived social acceptability of marijuana were all significantly associated with habitual use. Lastly, alcohol consumption mediated the effect of social influences on both lifetime and habitual use. Ultimately, this study reveals that associations between social influences and marijuana use are significant and worthy of further investigation. Moreover, the evidence suggests the necessity of distinguishing between lifetime and habitual use, as the motivations to try marijuana once or a few times in one’s life may not necessarily be predictive of prolonged use.

Type of Work

Thesis - Limited Access

Department or Program



Hamilton College


Bachelor of Arts

Date of Graduation


Faculty Advisor

Jaime Kucinskas

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.